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Want a raccoon for a pet? Think again.

Mark+Urtz+cuddles+his+pet+raccoon%2C+Apollo.
Mark Urtz cuddles his pet raccoon, Apollo.

Mark Urtz cuddles his pet raccoon, Apollo.

Mark Urtz cuddles his pet raccoon, Apollo.

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Twenty pairs of earbuds, four pairs of shoes, three phones, furniture around the whole house, and that’s just the beginning. Phone chargers, carpet and tile — all destroyed by a rambunctious 25-pound, two-year-old raccoon named Apollo.

“I didn’t expect to get a raccoon,” said eighth-grader Mark Urtz, Apollo’s owner.

But after a six-hour roundtrip drive to Lake City, and an hour and a half spent filling out state permits and other paperwork, Mark had one.

Total cost for Apollo and all the necessary supplies: about $700.

Mark’s dad decided to get the raccoon. He had one as a child. And the family doesn’t have any other pets.

Apollo stays in a cage while Mark is at school. After school, he comes out to play.

He’s so curious that taking food or pretty much anything else out of Mark’s hands is no surprise. Apollo chews or scratches on everything he gets his paws on.

“I wake up with Apollo gnawing on my head,” Mark said.

So if you’ve ever thought about getting one, think again.

“Oh they make horrible pets!” said Gary Moore of the Florida Wildlife Conservation, which requires would-be wildlife owners to first apply for a state permit.

“When raccoons get bored, they break stuff,” Moore said. “And they get bored easily.”

But it’s worth it, said Mark, who sometimes walks Apollo on a leash, like a dog.

“Keeping a raccoon as a pet is a lot of hard work,” Mark said. “But I couldn’t love any other pet more.”

 

 

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