Full disclosure, I’m a big fan of the raccoon. I find their scrappy spirit to be adorable. But, I’ve rarely seen these animals in-the-fur. Most of my fondness has come from the empire they have built on the internet. Take Pumpkin for example:
Injured and abandoned, a foster mother and a good Instagram account took this garden gamine from fur trap to celebrity! Her Insta fame netted her calendar and book deals, making her a cuddly version of Kim Kardashian.
Our parents consider raccoons to be unapproachable wildlife. Remember those ‘If you see a raccoon during the day it has rabies’ old wives tales? How did they dig themselves out of the garbage and into our digital hearts? Lets ask the experts!
“Raccoons are losing their natural habitat and moving into the suburbs like a bunch of WASPs,” explains veterinarian Dr. Ian Muldowney. “At the same time, carnivores like wolves or mountain lions are being forced out of the area. With no predators, the raccoon population is growing, and with greater population, comes more need for habitat expansion. Raccoons are much less fearful of humans, compared to smaller animals like squirrels. This leads to them demonstrating much bolder behavior, which allows for more human interactions and of course – social media traction.“
That explains how they have slinked into our cities, but how have they gotten to be so successful on social media?
“They’re cute! I’m sure that helps. Seriously… Possums are doing the same thing but they’re hideous so no one cares,” says Muldowney.
Raccoons ARE much cuter than possums. And cuteness drives internet LIKEs. Whether it be babies, dogs, kittens, or babies with dogs and kittens, cute content is king.
To understand why raccoons are so hot, we interviewed conservation biologist / photographer Giacomo Abrusci, the head of international nonprofit media company SevenSeasMedia.org. In regards to some of the most important pillars of social media success, he helped us determine whether or not raccoons held up!
You don’t have to look far to find raccoons trying to live their best and most HUMAN life. And just as corporations use humanization to achieve social victories, so do animals.
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“We like smart animals. Dogs, cats, dolphins… We like to see animals attempting to do human behavior, and even mastering human tools. We like to watch their inquisitiveness,” says Abrusci.
Its all about the lewk on Instagram. Face face face. Good selfies showcase those eyes, ‘cause we love the windows to your soul. It is not just in anime that we see those big soulful peepers, but animals that we love also tend to have eyes we can stare into.
“People have a thing for big eyes. Raccoons, pandas, slow lorises and orcas all have large eyes. We love them for it,“ says Abrusci.
Challenges Accepted and Overcome
Raccoons: Can’t Be Stopped!
Did you just run a marathon? Buy a house? Foster a rescue kitty? Get graduate college? Just wake-up and drag your ass to the mirror? We love to share our major/minor triumphs, and as an audience we crave clapping for those moments But nothing you have done beats the raccoon.
“In the race of human urban expansion, every other animal species has been threatened, retreated, and even gone extent. Not raccoons,” says GA.
Nothing stops the raccoon. Sure, occasionally they need to have their head removed from a mason jar or have themselves unstuck from a sewer grate, but name other animals who get nationwide attention for climbing skyscrapers. SKYSCRAPERS.
“Raccoons are actually seeing populations rebound as they manage to move into urban areas… and we provide a constant supply of calorie-rich food. “ says Abrusci . “Speaking of eating…
They eat, just like you – perhaps even more politely. And they have your same tastes! #Foodie
“They eat people food and the eat it with their hands!” Says Abrusci. Like humans, they are omnivores – able to eat anything from gluten-free pizza to avocado toast to a dirty diaper. So our table scraps are their dinner. One common factor in the social existence is our need for nourishment, and the need to document it and share your nibbles with the world. Score, raccoons!
The Great Outdoors:
“Deep down people love nature,” says Abrusci.
Yes sir, they do. And they love documenting their love of it on social. Vacations in #Tulum or mountain bike treks, if your dancing with Mama Nature we wanna share it on social. And our friends in the animal kingdom are a big part of this animal planet.
“Most wildlife is illusive, fleeting, or far-far-away. Raccoons are cute non-dangerous wild animals that hang out urban/suburban areas and are courageous to come inspect your trash. For lots of people in America, ask them what wildlife they saw as a kid, deer and squirrels go to the top of the list – but are a total snooze cause they’re everywhere. Spotting a cute mama raccoon with her fat kit waddling behind her feels like Christmas morning.”
Who Run The World? Raccoons!
Seems like raccoons’ success on social isn’t a mystery. These inFURencers might not have the same numbers as their canine cousins or their feline friends, but they certainly have all the right to their digital domination. Social posts and mentions featuring the masked mammals show a delicious combination of everything we look for in our digital content.