The vehicle had been closed and partially sealed, but the enterprising mother was able to climb through a plastic covering on one of the windows. After mom and her two kits were discovered, Devon Straight of the rescue group Wildlife, Inc., safely removed the family.
In a Facebook post about the rescue, Straight showed images of the mother raccoon looking wide-eyed and nervous inside the car. The animal had reportedly ripped up the car's interior, opened compartments, and urinated. (Watch a mother raccoon helps a baby learn to climb a tree.)
After capturing the mom, Straight and two additional employees combed through the car, finding one baby in the backseat and one in the trunk under a spare tire.
Though a Chevy isn't a raccoon's natural habitat, the setting actually was a good substitute for a den, one expert says—protected, quiet, and free of predators.
"They give birth in human homes and spaces like attics all the time," says Suzanne MacDonald, a professor at Canada's York University who specializes in animal foraging behavior.
She's all too familiar with quirky urban raccoons.
After birth, the kits stay put for about three to four weeks, meaning a raccoon's birthing den needs to be safe and secluded. This allows mothers to leave and forage for food while the babies stay quietly tucked away.
City raccoons are used to living alongside people, adds MacDonald. They tend to be opportunistic feeders that can take advantage of our resources. (See "Why These Adorable Baby Raccoons 'Adopted' a Fisherman.")
"Urban raccoons live with us, we live with them; they are not put off by us at all," she says.
The rescuers took the raccoon family to a nearby wooded area, where they shouldn't have an issue resettling.
"If she's in a new, unfamiliar territory, she'll have to fight for space, but if it's nearby, she'll be fine," says MacDonald.
In an interview with a local paper, the Herald Tribune, Straight says that the mother darted out of its kennel and ran into the woods before coming back to collect the babies.
While only two kits were found in the car, raccoons regularly have five in one litter, leading some of the wildlife rescuers to speculate that the raccoon was still pregnant.
"No," laughs MacDonald, "That's not possible."