Most popular raccoon on Instagram dies

Pumpkin the raccoon Image copyright PumpkinTheRaccoon/Instagram

Pumpkin, the most popular raccoon on Instagram, has died at the age of four.

Her owner, Laura Young, confirmed on the social media platform that Pumpkin passed away two weeks ago.

"Her passing came as a complete shock to us and we are still trying to come to terms with it," she wrote to 1.4 million followers.

She added: "This little raccoon literally fell into my life when I was going through a tough time. She gave me purpose and gave me confidence."

Laura found newborn Pumpkin with a broken leg hanging out under the shade of a tree in the Bahamas.

Pumpkin's raccoon mother never returned for her, and - as there wasn't an animal rescue nearby - Laura took her home.

She turned Pumpkin into an Instagram star after her rescue in 2014 - and fans flocked to see her adventures.

From munching biscotti biscuits, enjoying avocado and undertaking a late-night snacking mission on pizza, Pumpkin has provided plenty of entertainment.

"My husband said it perfectly, she is now forever dreaming of avocados, eggs, and sips of my leftover tea."

And she was also a force for good - raising attention and funds after Hurricane Dorian struck the neighbouring Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama in September.

But she wasn't just an Instagram star. For Laura and her family, Pumpkin was more like "a permanent toddler".

"For the past five years this little girl was always by my side, through happiness and tears. I like to think she helped prepare me for motherhood."

"Pumpkin would lick the tears from my face and it would make me laugh and smile. She did this so many times."

She would also sometimes share the spotlight with Laura's rescue dogs, Toffee and Oreo.

Laura says Pumpkin's Instagram account will remain active in some form to honour her memory.

"I will continue to keep this account. The format will change but it's important to me to honour our girl Pumps."

"I know how much you all loved and adored her. She is going to be one missed raccoon."

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