When she found the raccoon, people suggested getting him euthanized. "That broke my heart," she said and took the little guy home.
Nobody takes the effort to save a raccoon; even the orphaned ones are left neglected. That's what Nikki Robinson realized when she found one all alone on the side of the road a few years ago. "When you ask what you should do with [an orphaned raccoon], they say, ‘Leave it alone and let nature take its course,’ or ‘You can take it to a vet and they will have to euthanize it,'" Nikki told The Dodo. “That broke my heart. I couldn’t let that happen!"
Seeing that there was no one else to take the raccoon in, Nikki decided to take the little guy home. But since she worked full time, she needed help from her mother, Linda. At first, Linda was reluctant to become the racoon's part-time mother. But once she started feeding the raccoon named Little Hands, there was no turning back.
"The first time she bottle-fed him and he looked up at her, she just kind of melted," Nikki said. “She treated him very sweetly early on because they like to be touched a lot. So she created a bond with him, even knowing he’d go back to the wild at some point."
From being a dehydrated, hungry, and scared little raccoon, Little Hands grew strong in the two and a half months he spent with them before being released into the wild. What the mother and daughter did not expect was seeing Little Hands return to them every now and then for snuggles, scratches, as well as some snacks.
It was "pure joy," Nikki told Bored Panda about seeing Little Hands come back. "And every time he came back it was a more and more joyous occasion especially because he wanted our attention as well as our food which was all that much more special."
Three years have passed since they first met Little Hands. And even after his release, he regularly came back to them to say "hello."
Nikki and Linda have also taken in several other animals, including raccoons, over the past five years.
"I think our total now is over 15 raccoons over 5 years. I’ve also worked with several other animals but none as close as the raccoons," Nikki shared. "My mom and I would like to open an official wildlife rehabilitation center in the future and I am working on getting more licenses and training for the different species. But in the end, we take the raccoons because no one else will due to their abundance in nature already. Every animal deserves a chance, right?"
They have seen many animals go back to the wild, but none have kept coming back the way Little Hands does.
"This has gone on for 3 years! All the other releases have gone wild. The ones that were released at Linda’s house will still come and eat at night, sometimes bring their babies too, but they are scared of us and won’t approach us closely. Little Hands is just special and super adorable!"
"I guess this is always his home," Nikki went on to say. "He knows he can come back for an easy meal, but some animals want more than a full stomach. Comfort and love."
Cover image source: Nikki Robinson/Instagram