The Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
The Tanuki is also known as the Raccoon Dog in Japan. This is due to the fact that they look fairly similar to that of the North American raccoon. But what exactly is the Tanuki? Let's look at the science and find out for ourselves!
Physical description and Behavior
Tanuki may have similar features to the raccoon, such as the fur color and the mask that they wear, but they are much closer to dogs than they are to raccoons. In fact, their skulls are very similar to that of foxes. They are also covered in a yellowish-brown fur with a darker brown chest. In Russia, they are even known to have a white winter coat.
They are omnivores, but their teeth and digestive system are more aligned for plant matter. For instance, they have smaller canines, flat molars, and a longer intestine. Their ears are short and look like nubs under their fur. They are also able to climb trees as well, so it is of no surprise that many people have compared them to that of the raccoon.
These animals do not live very long, but can survive up to 11 years in captivity. Another interesting thing about them is the fact that they are the only canids known to hibernate. While in some areas they only seem to hibernate during more severe snowstorms, it is still interesting that they hibernate at all. Their activity starts back up again in February when it is warmer and more food is available.
Habitat and Location
They are native to areas in the west such as China, Japan, and Russia. However, they have been introduced to other parts of the world as well. As a result, they can also be found throughout much of Europe.
They prefer to be close to water sources and can be found on both farmland, as well as deciduous, mixed, and evergreen forests.
Check out this video for more information on this fascinating animal!