A pair of baby raccoons were rescued from a chimney in Dedham, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, before reuniting with their mother, police said.
The raccoons, likely just 2 weeks old, are too young to even open their eyes. Dedham police said the babies were likely born on a smoke shelf located between the smoke chamber and firebox of the chimney, which would serve as a comfortable nesting place for the mama raccoon.
After the rescue, the babies were left in a safe place overnight, but were nowhere to be found Wednesday morning, Dedham Animal Control said via Facebook.
"We have every reason to believe that momma returned for her two babies during the night last night," wrote Deni Goldman, the town's chief animal control officer. "Often, momma raccoons will venture out to find food, leaving their babies for several hours...Momma may have set out on this mission even while her babies were still being rescued from the chimney."
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
Goldman explained further in an email that the mother may have been spooked by all the activity when the babies were removed from the chimney and likely returned once the coast was clear of humans.
Officials are warning residents that fireplace chimneys are popular spots for the animals to hide out in during the summer, as they provide safe shelter spaces for mother raccoons to give birth.
Measures residents who find raccoons in their chimneys can take include making loud noises, placing rags soaked in liquids with strong odors like vinegar in the chimney, and shining bright lights at the animals, the Dedham Police Department said. Officials also advise placing a cap on your chimney in order to prevent raccoons from getting in.
In the event that the noises, lights, or odors cause the mama raccoon to escape the chimney, leaving her babies to fall in the fireplace, residents are asked to contact local animal control right away.
People should refrain from making any physical contact with the animals, as they are known to carry rabies, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Dedham residents interested in finding out more information on raccoons should contact their local animal control officer at 781-751-9106.