Parks and Recreation’s main character, Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), once affectionately referred to raccoons in the show as “nature’s bandits.”
Even though the term may seem like a dig, she refers to the creatures with a kind of wonderment and even appreciation.
There are throngs of social media accounts dedicated to folks’ enchantment with these wonderful beings. That’s due to their mischievous and playful nature, for their willingness to throw down with anyone or anything, regardless of their size when they feel threatened, to their love (and dislike) of different foods. Raccoons almost always seem like they’re actively planning a heist of some kind that’ll get them fed, and they look absolutely adorable while doing it.
So it’s understandable why so many people are gushing over a viral TikTok posted by @laughhard__ that features a man who appears to have a very special relationship with a young raccoon he named “Swiper.” In the clip, the man holds up the raccoon pantomiming a “stick-up” situation.
The on-screen caption notes, “He got a whole raccoon as a pet and he trained it.”
@laughhard__ Wow somewhere in houston this guy got a raccoon as a pet and he trained it 😂😂😂😂😂😳 only in the hood #fyppppppppppppp #blowthisup #rachapotes #mrpotee ♬ original sound – Laugh Hard
After dropping the raccoon to the ground and walking around on his own, the man demonstrates how attached the creature is to him, prompting many users to remark that they wish they had a pet raccoon of their own.
“I want a raccoon!! I have a little possum!! Spoiled rotten,” one person wrote.
“My goal,” another declared.
Someone else said, “This man just out here living peoples dreams and sh*t.”
“Only in the hood,” laughed one, echoing part of the caption.
Like most wild animals, raccoons found in the wilderness are prone to rabies, so adopting one from the wild is inadvisable.
A WebMD article titled “Can I Have a Pet Raccoon?” observes, “Raccoons are intelligent animals. They can problem solve and have good memories. However, raccoons are wild animals, so taking one from the wild won’t have good results and is likely illegal.” That’s not to say that there aren’t some type of White Fang instances that haven’t occurred in real life, where wild animals have displayed an affinity for humans who have shown them kindness, but this is more than likely the exception, and not the rule.
That’s not to say that keeping a raccoon as a pet is out of the question. The article notes, “If you find a raccoon that has been domesticated or rehabilitated, they can be a loving and playful pet.”
There’s also the question of legality when it comes to keeping a raccoon as a pet. Wise Voter states that Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are all states where it’s entirely legal for someone to have a pet raccoon. If you don’t reside in one of these aforementioned areas all hope is not lost, however. Many states allow folks to get special permits for exotic or specialized animals to keep as pets.
While it’s entirely possible to keep one of these creatures as a fuzzy, food stealing, roly-poly somersaulting companion, there are some folks who would strongly advise against doing so, just by the virtue of the creatures’ particular needs.
The Spruce Pets writes: “Raccoons aren’t common pets for good reason. They are extremely high maintenance and fairly unpredictable, which is why most animal experts advise against keeping them as pets.”
That article points out raccoons are destructive of property and are quick to bite, they’re always climbing all over the place and are very, very curious.
Raccoons must also have a variegated diet that needs to be monitored closely, though the For Fox Sakes Wildlife site claims raccoons can thrive on a diet of cat food, dog food, eggs, and fresh fruit.
Cramped living spaces are also less than ideal for the creatures, as they do need a decent enough area to help fulfill their exploratory natures and roam-loving attitudes.
While The Spruce Pets says they’re relatively high maintenance when compared to common house pets like cats and dogs, it also observes, “I you have the knowledge and time to properly care for a raccoon, they can be fascinating and funny companions.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to @laughhard__ via TikTok comment for further information.