Common Name: Raccoon Dog
Scientific Name: Nyctereutes procyonoides
Species: N. procyonoides
The raccoon dog’s head and body length is 50-65cm (20–26 inches); tail length, 13–18 cm; and weight, about 7.5 kg (16.5 pounds). Coloration - The raccoon dog, also known as "tanuki" throughout much of its range, is perhaps one of the most unusual canids in the world. It is a dog that with all their physical traits and appearance looks just like a raccoon, having raccoon markings and body structure. This is where the species name, procyonoides, comes from; Procyon is the scientific name for raccoon. It has a very thick body short/thick legs, small rounded ears, and a bushy tail. Their thick, short fur is a grizzled grey in color, with dark areas around the eyes, the legs and the tip of the tail, and lighter areas on the muzzle and underneath their tail. The canine teeth are small, so most of their chewing is done through the molars. Raccoon dogs have no close living relatives in the dog family. They do show both behavioral and structure likeness to the bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis).
Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) is native to eastern Siberia, northern China, North Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. Between 1927 and 1957, the fur-farming industry introduced from 4,000 to 9,000 raccoon dogs to the European and Asian U.S.S.R. Today, N. procyonoides is widespread throughout northern and western Europe in countries including Finland, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, France, Austria, and Hungary.
Raccoon dog has the appearance of a small fox-like canid with the fur markings a lot like those of raccoons. They have small heads (greatest length 133 mm) with pointed, low-profile rostra. The dental formula is i 3/3, c 1/1, p 4/4, m 2 or 3/3, total 42 or 44. That was found directly out of the website on raccoon dogs. Raccoon dogs have reduced carnassials and pretty large molars. Their height ranges from 38.1 to 50.8 cm. and their length from head to butt is 50 to 68 cm with a tail length of 13 to 25 cm. Their legs are short, and the body is stocky. Body weight can range from 4 to 6 kg in the summer to 6 to 10 kg in the winter before hibernation. On average, individuals in Europe tend to be larger than those in China and Japan. The existence of several subspecies of raccoon dogs may account for this discrepancy. Most of the adult females in China and Japan are 0.5kg greater than males.
Raccoon dog is found in subarctic and subtropical climates. It prefers forest, forest borders, or dense vegetation, areas of thick underbrush, marshes, and reed beds for dense cover. Regions bordering water are also a favorite of the animal. Raccoon dogs are found from near sea level to greater than 3,000 m. Raccoon dogs also have been known to go into many human neighborhoods and homes while scavenging for food. Radiotelemetry studies show that raccoon dogs live and hunt in pairs or small family groups. In most sightings by humans, however, they are alone. It is not known whether the duration of the pair bond formed during reproduction lasts the entire year. When sleeping or resting, pairs usually remain in contact with one another. Social grooming is also important in raccoon dogs. This behavior is linked to the dark facial mask in both this species and bat-eared foxes Although some studies have shown them to be mainly nocturnal (up all night), recent studies show regular activity during the day too.
Increased length of activity is probably because they need to find enough small food items to eat. Raccoon dogs are not wanderers/climbers. These animals eat and look on the ground or on low vegetation. They also are able to swim or dive for food. The Raccoon dog relies on its sense of smell while hunting and foraging because it has poor vision for a member of the family Canidae. With its nose at the ground level, it wanders in search of food. Raccoon dogs are not fast animals, but they are relentless in their search for food. They are usually known as collectors or gatherers. Raccoon dogs hibernate in pairs. Hibernation begins in November and may extend through early April, depending on the local climate. An individual may gain as much as 50% of its body weight before hibernation. Hibernation is not absolutely necessary for this species. If an individual is unable to store enough fat beforehand, it will have to emerge from the den on warm winter days to forage. For this reason, some individuals may not hibernate at all. In the southernmost part of the range, raccoon dogs do not hibernate.
They are found in eastern Siberia, northern China, North Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. Size of population and conservation status - There are 34 species of canidaes and the populations have been getting smaller. Diet and feeding habits- Raccoon dog is an opportunistic omnivore. On land, it hunts insects, small rodents, amphibians, birds, and eggs. It also fishes in lakes, rivers, and streams using its paws to scoop prey out of the water. It also dives underwater in search of its meal. In addition, raccoon dogs eat mollusks, snakes, and lizards; on the seashore, crabs, sea urchins, and sea carrion are also consumed. Raccoon dogs also eat plant material including stems, roots, leaves, bulbs, fruits, nuts berries, and seeds according to the season and location. During the fall, they eat mainly vegetables, including a variety of fruits, wild berries, and seeds such as oats.
In the winter, when food sources are limited, they may survive on human garbage and carrion. In Japan, raccoon dogs rely heavily on garbage, insects, fish, crabs, and plants such as buckthorn hornbeam and a shrub. In Finland, during the summers, they rely on small mammals plants, and amphibians; during the winter, they rely on carrion, small mammals, and plants. Their diet depends on where they live and the season. They are omnivorous and will eat just about anything they can find, from rodents, lizards, frogs, ground birds, seeds, fruit, berries, insects, and spiders. They are able to eat even toxic frogs and toads. They cannot eat larger prey due to a weak dental structure; the teeth of raccoon dogs are very small in comparison to other canids. Also, their carnassials are weaker, but they have more developed molars for chewing plant matters.
Golden eagles, Lynx, Wolverines, Wolves, and domestic dogs all pose a threat to the Raccoon Dog. This is what eats the raccoon dog, they are also heavily hunted for their fur and for food. In Japan, the raccoon dog has been hunted to near extinction for their meat and fur, and their bones which are used in traditional medicine. The raccoon dog was introduced throughout much of its current range specifically for hunting purposes, for its fur. Raccoon dogs tend to carry and spread rabies and are a problem in urban areas, where they overturn trash cans and dig up gardens. Interesting facts- What stood out was that their tracks are usually found near water. I have learned that during cold weather, raccoon dogs will sleep for several days, but do not hibernate. I hope you enjoy my report. I liked learning about the Raccoon Dog. It is really cool to learn new things about animals.
Author: Ashlyn F.
Sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon_Dog www.all-creatures.org/anex/raccdog.html - Encyclopedia Brittanica - Raccoon Dog, printed copy www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/488027/raccoon-dog (Also used the online edition for additional information) www.canids.org/species/Nyctereutes_procyonoides.htm