Escaped raccoon dogs recently caused a bit of a stir in a British village. If you were wondering what kind of creatures they are, you weren’t alone.
Raccoon dogs, or tanukis, resemble raccoons, but they aren’t related. They’re native to Siberia, China and southeast Asia. Any raccoon dogs wild in Europe are escapees from captivity.
Tanukis form closely bonded groups. They even hibernate together, being the only canine species to undergo winter hibernation.
However, tanukis are not domesticated and they don’t make good pets. Sadly, they could become threatened, in part because their fur — called murmansky fur — is sometimes used as falsely labeled “faux” fur.
Ironically, tanukis are cultural icons in Japan where they’re depicted as mischievous, magical heroes. Hopefully, some of that magic can help them in the future.