Influencer raccoons with millions of followers are taking over Instagram — but it’s difficult to own one

Pumpkin the Raccoon has 1.5 million Instagram followers.

Pumpkin the Raccoon has 1.5 million Instagram followers.
  • “Verminfluencers” – animals like raccoons, skunks, and opossums – are popular on Instagram.
  • But owning them poses several problems, according to the New York Times.
  • It’s not legal to own these kinds of animals in every state, and they’re hard to acquire. Veterenarians aren’t always equipped to treat them.
  • But if you can pull it off, there are benefits over being a human influencer.

Instagram-famous pets are nothing new. Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette famously has 300,000 followers, and it’s common for people to make social media accounts for their animals.

But these pets aren’t just cats and dogs: They also include vermin. “Verminfluencers” – skunks, rats, raccoons, beavers, opossums, and the like – have a huge presence on Instagram, according to the New York Times.

Take Pumpkin the Raccoon, for example, who has 1.5 million followers – more than, say, Mini Jake Paul, an internet-famous toddler.

It makes sense: Vermin can be much more relatable than cats, or even regular people.

“We can all relate to an animal who’s just focused on eating and rummaging through trash,” Victoria Armour, one vermin fan, told the Times.

But owning vermin as a pet isn’t easy. They pose unique problems.

You can’t just get a raccoon at a shelter

Unlike cats and dogs, it’s not easy to get a raccoon. You can’t just go to a shelter and pick one up, like you would a cat. You’d need to find a licensed breeder, and then join that breeder’s waiting list. It could take months, vermin-owners told the Times.

And many states restrict owning vermin as pets. Only 17 allow skunks to be owned, and five states ban owning raccoons, according to The Spruce, a site that offers guidance for pet owners.

Picking up a raccoon from the wild is also a bad idea. It’s illegal in many states, and it’s extremely difficult to domesticate one. Many veterinarians also refuse to treat animals that lack the proper permits, according to the Times.

It’s also hard to get someone to take care of your pets if you want to go on vacation, or need to take a work trip. How many people are qualified to look after a raccoon or opossum?

“It’s harder for me to find somebody to watch Rocket than it is finding someone to watch my horses,” Danielle Stewart, the owner of Rocket the Raccoon, told the Times. “Every time we’ve gone on vacation, he’s had an absolute temper tantrum back home.”

Furthermore, there’s the matter of a breeding schedule: Without the paperwork, vets often won’t neuter the animal. Vermin breed often – raccoons have one litter per year – and the babies offer additional problems.

Don’t even get us started on puberty. Raccoons enter it at around the age of six months.

“[Rocket was] an absolute demon,” Stewart told the Times. Those domestication issues went away after he was neutered, she said.

If you can make it work, your raccoon can be famous

Few verminfluencers have the same success as Pumpkin the Raccoon’s 1.5 million followers. There are mid-level influencers, too, like Gizmo the Skunk, with 30,000.

Vermin is easy to monetize. Their images can be turned into branded products like T-shirts and mugs, and their accounts can get sponsors, like any other influencer.

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On Fridays we nap???????????? 3 ➡️➡️➡️ . For more than 60 years, skunks have undergone domestication to be the fun-loving, furry mischief-makers that more and more skunk enthusiasts are welcoming into their homes. . Despite wild skunks being most active at dawn and dusk, pet skunks can be trained to have a sleep cycle that mirrors that of their humans. They are very cuddly and playful animals, offering hours of free entertainment for their pet parents. Pet skunks do have a tendency to get into things, though, much like wild skunks enjoy getting into garbage. . #cutevideos #petskunk #randomfacts #pets #animaleducation #animal #meangirls #wewearpink @todayshow @buzzfeedanimals @mirandalambert

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Using an animal as an influencer also offers some security. The owner can project a personality on an animal for an audience, instead of trying to present their own. An opossum is also less likely to be controversial by saying something racist or running alleged scams, like Brittany Davis or Caroline Calloway – both of whom have fewer Instagram followers than Pumpkin.

“We’re no longer liking the fluffy animals,” Armour told the Times. “We want the weirdos. We want the jaded ones. We want the ones who were kicked out of society.”