Megan Borgmann and her husband wanted a furry friend, so they visited a breeder and selected a pet named Gizmo. But one thing was unusual: Gizmo was a 12-pound skunk. (Yes, he’s been de-scented.) The Borgmanns are among the many people who are welcoming vermin—such as raccoons, bats, and opossums—into their homes. These people aren’t plucking the animals from the wild; They have to adopt from approved dealers. Some states have laws against keeping vermin, and even where it’s legal, owners must follow strict regulations. Still, many say the critters make wonderful pets. That’s why some owners are working to change negative perceptions by bringing their vermin to events and posting online to show that these animals have emotions and preferences, just like other pets. “It’s been really cool watching people turn around their opinion,” says Allison Sanchez, an opossum fan, “instead of just seeing them as creepy, hissing animals.”