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VIDEO: Vitya The Russian Raccoon Is Treated Like Family 

Couple takes the pet to a fitness club, on fishing trips and taught him to swim.

Vitya the raccoon has become a social-media sensation, thanks to video exploits showing him swimming and traveling thousands of miles across Russia with his owners, who treat him “like a son.”

Olesya Shilyaeva and Evgeny Shilyaev said they thought of getting a dog when they came across a raccoon on Instagram and fell in love with the idea of owning one.

The couple then adopted little Vitya when he was only 2 months old, noting it is legal to keep a raccoon at home where they live and that “special nurseries breed them” in Russia.

“Vitya draws pictures, travels by car and train, takes boat rides, gets to know other animals, takes part in sports at a real fitness club, does the laundry, helps with the housework, plays games and goes fishing with us,” said Olesya and Evgeny. “Vitya leads a real life with us, like a person.”

Vitya the raccoon on a leash with Evgeny Shilyaev. (@bonairewildbirdrehab/Zenger News)

Here are the couple’s three most important points for successfully keeping a raccoon as a household pet:

*Give them plenty of personal space, including their own room.

*Devote a lot of time to games and walks.

*Monitor their diet, so the animal does not gain too much weight. No fast food or sweets.

It’s common for raccoons to teach their young how to swim, so Vitya got his swimming lessons in a pool.

Olesya Shilyaeva with her pet raccoon, Vitya. (@bonairewildbirdrehab/Zenger News)

The couple also goes on road trips across Russia and they enjoy taking Vitya along for the ride.

His antics have netted the beloved Vitya 200,000 followers on TikTok, along with 35,000 fans on Instagram.

If you think a pet raccoon might appeal to you, it is wise to do some homework first.

“Pet raccoons aren’t common, but some people have kept domesticated raccoons as pets over the years,” writes the Fetch by WebMD website.

“U.S. President Calvin Coolidge had two pet raccoons while he was in the White House. While they may seem cute, owning a pet raccoon might be more trouble than it’s worth, and most animal experts don’t recommend keeping them as pets.

“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. If you find a raccoon that has been domesticated or rehabilitated, they can be a loving and playful pet.”

(Edited by Fern Siegel and Matthew B. Hall)