Raccoon Dog, Tanuki

(Nyctereutes procyonoides)


Raccoon Dog, Tanuki IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

This is a unique kind of wild dog - marked like a raccoon, with curved claws enabling it to climb trees, and "hibernating".


With a head-body-length of 50-68 cm, the raccoon-dog is about the size of a fox but has shorter legs and a shorter tail of 13-25 cm. The body weight ranges from 4-6 kg in summer, but may reach close to 10 kg before winter hibernation.


The fur is long and dense, especially in winter. Its general colour is yellowish-brown. The shoulder, tip of tail and legs are blackish. The facial markings resemble those of a raccoon.


Raccoon-dogs occur mainly in forest and dense vegetation bordering lakes and streames. They use dens, which often have initially been made by a fox or a badger. They are monogamous. Mating season is in spring. After a gestation period of 59 to 64 days usually 5 to 8 cubs are born, but as many as 19 in one litter have been reported. Both parents participate in the rearing of their offspring.


Raccoon-dogs are omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, frogs, lizards, rodents and birds along with seeds, berries, fruit and rhizomes. Those living near the ocean will also eat crabs and other marine species.

Did you know?
That raccoon dogs are the only members of the canid family to go into torpor during winter? Torpor means a stage of inactivity, whereby the body temperature drops, allowing the organism to save energy. In the raccoon-dog there is no proper hibernation, however, because if winter weather warms up a bit they will emerge from their dens and may forage. In the milder, more southern parts of their range they may not go into torpor at all.


Name (Scientific) Nyctereutes procyonoides
Name (English) Raccoon Dog, Tanuki
Name (French) Chien viverrin, Tanuki
Name (German) Marderhund
Name (Spanish) Tanuki, Perro Mapache
Local names Estonian: Kährik
Finnish: Supikoira
Italian: Cane procione
Japanese: Tanuki
Romansh: Chaun-vulp
Swedish: Mårdhund
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Native to Eastern Asia, but they were introduced to western Russia and are now widespread in northern and eastern Europe.
Habitat They are found many habitat types (forests, farmlands, meadows, open landscapes and urban areas from coastal to subalpine zones), but they are especially common in woodlands near water
Wild population Unknown, but stable (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 100 reported to ISIS (2006), but captive raccoon dogs stll exist on fur farms in Finland (IUCN Red List)

In the Zoo

Raccoon Dog, Tanuki


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Piotr Kuczynski

Why do zoos keep this animal

The raccoon-dog is not a threatened species. Zoos keep it primarily for educational reasons, e.g. to present a species with a high invasive potential, or to show the only representative of the dog family going into torpor during winter. Often raccoon-dogs are kept together with or next to raccoons which allows for demonstrating convergence, i.e. the evolutionary process whereby organisms not closely related independently evolve similar traits as they both adapt to similar environments.