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Do you know the raccoon dog, lookalike of the raccoon?


Also called “Tanuki” in Japan, this invasive species exploited for its fur has recently been singled out for its supposed role in the transmission of Covid-19.

It has a raccoon-like head but a poodle body.

However, the

raccoon dog

belongs to the Canidae family.

Originally from North-East Asia, he was recently suspected of having contributed to the transmission of the Covid-19.

To discover

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It is called a raccoon dog because it resembles a viverrid, the name of a family of small carnivorous mammals such as civets or mongooses.

Distribution in the world, food… Discover this dog also called “



How to recognize a raccoon dog?

A small dog, the raccoon weighs between 3 and 10 kg, for a length of 50 to 80 cm.

Its tail is quite short if we relate it to its body (10 to 25 cm).

This dog is stocky and has short ears and legs.

The hair of the raccoon dog, long and silky, is not monochromatic but oscillates between gray and fawn.

The main physical peculiarity of this dog is its dark facial mask, which is not found in any other canine, and which often causes it to be confused with raccoons.

Did you know ?

Dogs aren't the only ones with a 'raccoon' breed, as there is also a raccoon cat.

Also called fisherman cat, this wild feline is particularly adept at hunting fish.

Each year, after a gestation period of 2 months, the female gives birth to a litter of 3 to 7 raccoon pups.

In autumn, this dog makes provisions in order to enter into lethargy in winter.

The lifespan of this species is about 7 years.

Read alsoWhat is the difference between hibernation and hibernation?

Geographic distribution of the raccoon dog

The raccoon dog is mainly present in eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea).

However, in the first half of the 20th century, a release of 9,000 specimens in the USSR allowed this species to spread throughout the European continent.



, its presence has been attested in the North-East (Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comté) even if it remains extremely rare.

The species appropriated 1.4 million square kilometers between 1935 and 1984, traveling to Finland, the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Moldova and Romania.

Its development in Germany has continued to increase: German hunters, who killed between 12 and 204 specimens in the early 1990s, killed more than 18,000 in the 2003-2004 season alone.

What is its habitat?

The ideal habitat for the raccoon dog is lowland forests with bodies of water and a good density of trees.

Unaccustomed to building his own burrow, he prefers to occupy those abandoned by badgers or foxes.

Like many small mammals, it adapts to natural shelters encountered on its way: crevices, hollow trees, branches, etc.

To know

The raccoon dog lives alone or in pairs, very rarely in groups.

It is mainly active at dusk or at night.

Read alsoDo you know what hides behind the word "fox"?

Feeding the raccoon dog

The raccoon dog feeds on rodents, insects and plants.

Adobe Stock

The raccoon dog is a carnivorous animal, which eats both meat and plants.

It adapts to the food resources at its disposal.

Here is a list of his favorite foods:

  • In Europe, it mainly hunts rodents, such as field mice and voles.

  • He is also a great lover of insects and plants.

  • It can consume marine animals such as fish, amphibians and molluscs.

  • Reptiles and birds are also among its prey, as are their eggs.

Can you domesticate a raccoon dog?

The raccoon dog is a wild animal that carries many diseases.

It is not only not recommended but above all prohibited to keep it in captivity, to raise it or to transport it (European regulation n°1143/2014).

It should be known that this dog is of a very not very docile nature.

Outside its natural environment, its health can be affected.

Many Britons tried to keep them as pets in the 2010s, until they were forced to release them into the wild, where they became invasive.

The UK government banned the sale of raccoon dogs in 2019.

Read alsoCzechoslovakian wolf dog: origin, size and character

Are raccoon dogs dangerous?

This canine is not dangerous as long as it is left alone.

Its main nuisance concerns gardens, since it likes to feed in vegetable gardens and ravage plants in search of insects.

From a health point of view, it is likely, like other dogs, to transmit rabies.

The European Union has listed the species as an invasive alien species of concern.

Read alsoAggressive dog: how to calm him down?

Tanuki: what is its symbolism in Japan?

The raccoon dog is considered a forest spirit in Japan.

Adobe Stock

Japanese mythology gives a special place to the raccoon dog, called “



He is considered to be one of the forest spirits (


) believed to possess magical powers such as shapeshifting.

The Tanuki is a symbol of luck and prosperity, like cats and foxes.

We meet him in Japanese art, often wearing a straw hat and holding a sake gourd.

For centuries, he has been represented as a biped with imposing testicles.

He also appears in the Super Mario Bros 3 video game, in which the hero Mario has the ability to transform into a raccoon dog and fly.

Read alsoWhat animals are associated with Halloween?

Raccoon dog fur

The raccoon dog was introduced into the western part of the USSR from 1928. Several thousand specimens were indeed imported over two decades, until 1950. The objective of this introduction was the exploitation of fur of the raccoon dog.

This breeding stopped, being replaced by that of the red fox, more profitable.

In Japan, raccoon dog hunting is widespread;

it represents 11% of the animals killed, according to the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.

China has five to ten million breeding dogs of this type.

In Western Europe, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation and the Swiss Animal Protection have alerted to certain practices: the production of stuffed boots from raccoon dogs skinned alive.

However, European law does not officially prohibit fur from this animal since although it is listed in the Canidae family, it is listed in the


genus and not


(dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, etc.). ).

No legislation protects


, of which the raccoon dog is the only species to be included.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-22

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