Raccoon dogs or Tanuki
July 1, 2017 | View PDF
The Raccoon dog, also known as Magnut or Tanuki, is a type of Asian wild dog it is very much a member of the dog family. It is considered to be one of the earliest species that other dog species have evolved from. Neither a raccoon nor a dog, but it does belong to the canid family, which is a lineage that includes dogs, wolves, and foxes. They are the only Canid that hibernates in the winter. There are 5 subspecies of raccoon dogs that can be found in the eastern Asia and Europe. These animals inhabit dense forests and live close to the water. The number of raccoon dogs in Asia is decreased as a result of excessive hunting (because of their fur).
European raccoon dogs are numerous and even classified as invasive species due to ability to easily conquer new habitats and spread various diseases. Raccoon dog is not on the list of endangered species.
Raccoon dogs can reach 18 to 28 inches in length and 14 to 15 pounds of weight they are covered with thick, long fur. Density and color of the fur depends on the season. Thick, brown or brownish-grey fur is characteristic for the winter. Reddish fur is typically seen during the summer. Black stripe on the back side of the body stretches toward the shoulders where it widens and forms cross-like shape. Belly is yellowish-brown colored. They have pointed snout, short ears, elongated torso and short legs. They have curved claws and dexterous front paws which facilitate climbing on the trees and holding of the slippery prey. Raccoon dogs, like raccoons, sometimes wash the food.
They are not genetically related with raccoons despite the name and similarities in behavior. They are nocturnal creatures (active during the night), and are omnivores (eat plants and meat). Their diet consists of fish, frogs, birds and their eggs, amphibians, reptiles, small invertebrates, fruit, seeds, nuts and berries. Unlike other species of dogs, raccoon dogs have small canine teeth, flat molars and elongated intestines. These features are typical for animals that eat large quantities of plant food.
The main predators of raccoon dogs are wolves, wild cats, foxes and birds of prey. Raccoon dogs live in pairs or small family groups. They produce yelps, growls and whining sounds for communications. Raccoon dogs are the only species of wild dogs that hibernate during the winter. Reserves of fat collected during the summer are used as a main source of energy during hibernation.
Mating season of raccoon dogs takes place from February to April. Pregnancy in females lasts 61 to 70 days and ends with 6 to 7 puppies (rarely 15). Both parents participate in rearing of young raccoon dogs. Young animals depend on the mother's milk during the first 2 months of their life. At the age of one month, they enrich milk-based diet with meat. Independent life starts a few months later, at the age of 4 to 5 months. Raccoon dogs reach sexual maturity at the age of 8 to 10 months. Raccoon dogs can survive 6 to 7 years in the wild and up to 11 years in the captivity.