Habitat: East Asia, introduced population in Europe Status: Least Concern
So I’ve seen many a raccoon before. Once I even saw a whole gaggle of them just chillin’, eating some kibble that had been left out for some dogs. I didn’t even notice them until 5 little heads with glowing eyes popped up out of the bushes. I’m sad to say I’ve never had an encounter with a Raccoon Dog before, which is, in fact, an entirely different species – though the two look very much alike.
Raccoon Dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides), also known as the tanuki in Japan, are native to East Asia and are not closely related to raccoons at all. They’re actually members of the Canidae family and are among the most primitive canid species still alive, and the only ones that hibernate. They form monogamous pairs (usually in the fall) and have litters of around 6-7 pups at a time.
Oddly enough, while regular raccoon dogs resemble raccoons, leucistic versions of the animal look just like Arctic foxes! The Raccoon Dog seems to have a bit of an identity crisis going on, if you ask me…
While they’re currently listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN’s list of threatened species, that might soon change due to an increasing presence of raccoon dogs being harvested for their coats. It’s literally too upsetting for me to write about, but if you are interested in learning more, simply google ‘raccoon dogs fur farm.’ I don’t recommend this for children, as the content is pretty graphic. Though, it is important to know that these adorable creatures are under threat from horrible human practices.
**shout out to RJ!! Thanks for being such a loyal reader :)!
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