Raccoon dog

The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides, from the Greek words nukt-, "night" + ereutēs, "wanderer" + prokuōn, "before-dog" [but in New Latin used to mean "raccoon"] + -oidēs, "similar to"), also known as the mangut (its Evenki name)[2], tanuki or neoguri is a canid indigenous to East Asia. It is the only extant species in the genus Nyctereutes. Despite its peculiar appearance, it is a close relative of true foxes.

Among the Canidae, the raccoon dog shares the habit of regularly climbing trees only with the North American gray fox, another basal species.[3][4][5][6]

The raccoon dog is named for its superficial resemblance to the raccoon (Procyon lotor), to which it is not closely related. Native East Asian raccoon dog populations have declined in recent years due to hunting, fur trade, urbanization, the increase of animals associated with human civilization (such as pets and abandoned animals) and diseases that may be transmitted between them. In Sweden, it has been treated as a potentially hazardous invasive species.[7]

Raccoon dog
Tanuki the `Raccoon Dog`
N. procyonoides in Shiraishijima, Japan.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Nyctereutes
N. procyonoides
Binomial name
Nyctereutes procyonoides
(Gray, 1834)
Raccoon Dog area
Raccoon dog range
Blue – native area
Red – area of introduction
Raccoon dog
Chinese name
Alternative Chinese name
Second alternative Chinese name
Korean name
Japanese name


Nyctereutes procyonoides 02 MWNH 205b
Raccoon dog skull
Der Marderhund, Tanuki oder Enok (Nyctereutes procyonoides), bitte nicht zu verwechseln mit einem Waschbär, hier im Wisentgehege in Springe (Kleiner Deister)
Close-up of head

Raccoon dog skulls greatly resemble those of South American foxes, particularly crab-eating foxes, though genetic studies reveal they are not closely related.[4] Their skulls are small, but sturdily built and moderately elongated, with narrow zygomatic arches. The projections of the skull are well developed, the sagittal crest being particularly prominent in old animals.

In reflection of their omnivorous diets, raccoon dogs have small and weak canines and carnassials, flat molars and relatively long intestines (1.5–2 times longer than other canids). They have long torsos and short legs. Total lengths can range from 45 to 71 cm (18 to 28 in). The tail, at 12 to 18 cm (4.7 to 7.1 in) long, is short, amounting to less than 1/3 of the animal's total length and hangs below the tarsal joints without touching the ground. The ears are short and protrude only slightly from the fur.

Weights fluctuate according to season: in March they weigh 3 kg (6.6 lbs), while in August to early September males average 6.5–7 kg (14–15 lbs), with some individuals attaining a maximal weight of 9–10 kg (20–22 lb).[2] Specimens from Japanese and Russian studies have been shown to be on average larger than those from Chinese studies.[8]

The winter fur is long and thick with dense underfur and coarse guard hairs measuring 120 mm in length. The winter fur protects raccoon dogs from low temperatures ranging down to −20° to −25 °C. It is of a dirty, earth-brown or brownish-grey colour with black guard hairs. The tail is darker than the torso. A dark stripe is present on the back which broadens on the shoulders, forming a cross shape. The abdomen is yellowish-brown, while the chest is dark brown or blackish. The muzzle is covered in short hair, which increases in length and quantity behind the eyes. The cheeks are coated with long, whisker-like hairs. The summer fur is brighter and reddish-straw coloured.[2]

A rare, white color phase occurs in this species in Japan [9] and in China.[10][11]

Fur colouring, in particular the facial mask, and habits of the raccoon dog, for example a nocturnal yet adjustable daily schedule which reacts to availability of food locally, bear some similarities to those of raccoons and a number of other small carnivores, to which it is not closely related. This includes viverrids, ferrets and weasels, and procyonids like the raccoon and the red panda.[12]


Reproduction and development

The mating season begins from early February to late April, depending on location. Raccoon dogs are monogamous animals, with pair formations usually occurring in autumn. Captive males, however, have been known to mate with four or five females. Males will fight briefly, but not fatally, for mates.[2] Copulation occurs during the night or dawn and will last 6–9 minutes on average.[13] Estrus lasts from a few hours to six days, during which females will mate up to five times. Females will enter estrus again after 20–24 days, even when pregnant.

The gestation period lasts 61–70 days, with pups being born in April–May. Litter sizes on average consist of 6–8 pups, though 15–16 pups can be born in exceptional cases. First-time mothers typically give birth to fewer pups than older ones. Males take an active role in raising the pups.[2] This male role is very significant, as demonstrated by early releases in 1928 of pregnant females without males resulting in very limited success at introduction, while later releases of pairs from 1929 until the 1960s resulted in the raccoon dog's now extensive introduced European range.[14]

Streifzug Marderhundwelpe Pforzheim
A pup of raccoon dog

At birth, pups weigh 60–110 grams, and are blind and covered in short, dense, soft wool lacking guard hairs. Their eyes open after 9–10 days, with the teeth erupting after 14–16 days. Guard hairs begin to grow after 10 days, and first appear on the hips and shoulders. After two weeks, they lighten in colour, with black tones remaining only around the eyes. Lactation lasts for 45–60 days, though pups will begin eating food brought to them as early as the age of three weeks or one month. They reach their full growth at the age of 4.5 months. Pups will leave their parents in late August–September. By October, the pups, which by then resemble adults, will unite in pairs. Sexual maturity is reached at 8–10 months. Their longevity is largely unknown; animals 6–7 years of age have been encountered in the wild, while captive specimens have been known to live for 11 years.[2]


Raccoon dogs are the only canids known to hibernate. In early winter, they increase their subcutaneous fat by 18–23% and their internal fat by 3–5%. Animals failing to reach these fat levels usually do not survive the winter. During their hibernation, their metabolism decreases by 25%. In areas such as Primorsky Krai and their introduced range, raccoon dogs only hibernate during severe snowstorms. In December, their physical activity decreases once snow depth reaches 15–20 cm, and will limit the range from their burrows to no more than 150–200 m. Their daily activities increase during February when the females become receptive and when food is more available.[2]


Raccoon dogs are omnivores that feed on insects, rodents, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, molluscs, carrion and insectivores as well as fruits, nuts and berries.[15][16][17] Among the rodents targeted by raccoon dogs, voles seem to predominate in swampy areas, but are replaced with gerbils in flatland areas such as Astrakhan. Frogs are the most commonly taken amphibians; in the Voronezh region, they frequently eat fire-bellied toads, while European spadefoot toads are usually taken in Ukraine. Raccoon dogs are able to eat toads which have toxic skin secretions by producing copious amounts of saliva to dilute the toxins.[18] They will prey on waterfowl, passerines, and migrating birds. Grouse are commonly hunted in their introduced range, and many instances of pheasant predation are recorded in the Ussuri territory.

Raccoon dogs will eat beached fish and fish trapped in small water bodies. They rarely catch fish during the spawning season, but will eat many during the spring thaw. In their southern range, they eat young tortoises and their eggs. Insectivorous mammals hunted by raccoon dogs include shrews and hedgehogs and, on rare occasions, moles and desmans. In the Ussuri territory, large moles are their primary source of food. Plant food is highly variable, and includes bulbs, rhizomes, oats, millets, maize, nuts, fruits, berries, grapes, melons, watermelons, pumpkins, and tomatoes.[2] In Japan, they have been observed to climb trees to forage for fruits and berries,[4][5] using their curved claws to climb.[6]

Raccoon dogs adapt their diets to the season; in late autumn and winter, they feed mostly on rodents, carrion, and feces, while fruit, insects, and amphibians predominate in spring. In summer, they eat fewer rodents, and mainly target nesting birds and fruits, grains, and vegetables.[2]


Like foxes, they do not bark, uttering instead a growl, followed by a long-drawn melancholy whine. Captive specimens have been known to utter daily a very different kind of sound when hungry, described as a sort of mewing plaint.[19] Males fighting for females will yelp and growl.[2] Japanese raccoon dogs produce sounds higher in pitch than those of domestic dogs, and sound similar to cats.[4]

Expanded range and invasive species

Racoon dog2
Taking a Nap

From 1928–1958, 10,000 raccoon dogs of the N. p. ussuriensis subspecies were introduced in 76 districts, territories and republics of the Soviet Union in an attempt to improve their fur quality. Primor'e in the Russian Far East was the first region to be colonised, with individuals being transplanted from islands in the Sea of Japan. By 1934, raccoon dogs were introduced into Altai, the northern Caucasus, Armenia, Kirgizia, Tatarstan, Kalinin, Penza, and Orenburg regions. In the following year, they were further introduced into Leningradsky, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, and Bashkortostan.

Raccoon dogs in Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Trans-Baikaliya, and Altai did not fare well, due to harsh winters and scarce food. Raccoon dogs also fared badly in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus, Central Asia and Moldova. However, successful introductions occurred in the Baltic states, European Russia (particularly in Kalinin, Novgorod, Pskov and Smolensk regions), in central Russia (Moscow, Yaroslavl, Vologda, Gorkiy, Vladimir, Ryazan Oblasts, etc.) as well as in the black soil belt (Voronezh, Tambov and Kursk), the lower Volga Region and the level parts of the northern Caucasus and Dagestan. In Ukraine, the greatest numbers of raccoon dogs were established in Poltava, Kherson and Lugansk.[2]

In 1948, 35 raccoon dogs were introduced into Latvia. The population increased rapidly. In 1960, Latvia officially reported a total of 4,210 raccoon dogs were hunted.[20]

The raccoon dog is now abundant throughout Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania, and has been reported as far away as Bulgaria[21], Serbia, France, Romania, Italy,[4] Switzerland,[22] Germany,[23] Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.[7] In response, Denmark set a goal of zero breeding raccoon dogs by 2015.[24]


As of 2005,[25] five subspecies are recognised by MSW3:

Subspecies Trinomial authority Description Range Synonyms
Chinese raccoon dog
N. p. procyonoides
Nominate subspecies

Nyctereutes procyonoides procyonoides Hardwicke

Gray, 1834 Eastern China kalininensis (Sorokin, 1958)
sinensis (Brass, 1904)
stegmanni (Matschie, 1907)
Korean raccoon dog
N. p. koreensis

Korean raccoon dog

Mori, 1922 Korean peninsula
Yunnan raccoon dog
N. p. orestes
Thomas, 1923 Southeastern China, Northern Vietnam
Ussuri raccoon dog
N. p. ussuriensis

Nyctereutes procyonoides 4 (Piotr Kuczynski)

Matschie, 1907 Distinguished from N. p. procyonides by its larger size and denser, longer hair.[2] After being introduced to western USSR, it now occurs throughout Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. Russia (Ussuri and Amur territories), northeastern China and Korea, Europe amurensis (Matschie, 1907)
Japanese raccoon dog
N. p. viverrinus

Tanuki01 960

Beard, 1904 A small subspecies with smaller teeth and skull compared to those of N. p. ussuriensis,[4] it has the silkiest pelt among raccoon dogs.[26]

There is some debate in the scientific community regarding speciation between the other subspecies of raccoon dog and the Japanese subspecies in that due to chromosome, behavioral and weight differences, the Japanese raccoon dog could be considered a separate species from the other subspecies.[27] Genetic analysis confirmed unique sequences of mtDNA, classifying the Japanese raccoon dog as a distinct isolation species, based on evidence of eight Robertsonian translocations. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Canid Group's Canid Biology and Conservation Conference in September 2001 rejected the classification of the Japanese raccoon dog as a separate species, but its status is still disputed, based on its elastic genome.[28]

Japan albus (Hornaday, 1904)


Wolves are the main predators of raccoon dogs, killing large numbers of them in spring and summer, though attacks have been reported in autumn, too. In Tatarstan, wolf predation can account for 55.6% of raccoon dog deaths, while in northwestern Russia, it amounts to 64%. Red foxes will kill raccoon dog pups, and have been known to bite adults to death.

Both foxes and Eurasian badgers compete with raccoon dogs for food, and have been known to kill them if raccoon dogs enter their burrows. Eurasian lynxes rarely attack them. Birds of prey known to take raccoon dogs include golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, goshawks and eagle owls.[2]

Diseases and parasites

Raccoon dogs carry 32 different parasitic worms, including eight trematode species, 17 species of nematodes, seven cestodes and particularly Echinococcus. Six species of fleas are known to be carried by them, including Chaetopsylla trichosa, C. globiceps, Paraceras melis, Ctenocephalides felis, C. canis and Pulex irritans. Ticks include Dermacentor pictus, Ixodes ricinus, I. persulcatus, I. crenulatus and Acarus siro.[2] It has been speculated that the introduction of the raccoon dog to Europe brought with it infected ticks that introduced the Asian tick-borne meningoencephalitis virus.[29]

Cases of raccoon dogs carrying rabies are known from the lower Volga, Voronezh, and Lithuania, and massive epizootics of piroplasmosis were recorded in Ukraine and Tartary. Canine distemper occurs in raccoon dogs inhabiting the northern Caucasus. Captive raccoon dogs in Soviet state animal farms were recorded to carry paratyphoid, anthrax, and tuberculosis. Although they can be infected with mange, it does not pose a significant threat to their populations as it does with foxes.[2]

Relationships with humans

Game and crop damage

Raccoon dogs are harmful to game bird populations, particularly in floodlands and the shorelines of estuaries where they feed almost exclusively on eggs and chicks during the spring period. Birds amount to 15–20% of their diets in Lithuania, 46% on the Oka River floodlands and 48.6% in the Voronezh Reserve. They are also harmful to the muskrat trade, destroying their nests and eating their young. In Ukraine, raccoon dogs are harmful to kitchen gardens, melon cultivations, vineyards, and corn seedlings.[2]


Raccoon dogs are typically hunted from November until the snow deepens. In the Far East, they are hunted at night using Laikas and mongrels. In the 19th century, the Goldi and Oroch people would fasten bells to the collars of their raccoon dog hounds. In their introduced range, raccoon dogs are usually caught incidentally during hunts for other species. Hunting with dogs is the most efficient method in raccoon dog hunts, having success rates of 80–90%, as opposed to 8–10% with guns and 5–7% with traps. Unless they retreat in their burrows, hunted raccoon dogs can be quickly strangled by hunting dogs. Traps are usually set at their burrows, along the shores of water bodies, and around marshes and ponds.[2]

In Finland, 60,000–70,000 raccoon dogs were hunted in 2000, increasing to 170,000 in 2009 and 164,000 in 2010. Hunting of raccoon dogs in Hungary began in 1997, with an annual catch of one to 9 animals. In Poland, 6,200 were shot in 2002–2003. Annual Swedish and Danish raccoon dog hunts usually result in the capture of two to seven individuals. Between 18,000 and 70,000 Japanese raccoon dogs were killed in Japan from the post-WWII period to 1982. Japan has intensified its raccoon dog culling since the 1970s, averaging 4,529 kills annually between 1990 and 1998. The numbers killed have since decreased.[4]

Fur use

Raccoon dog 12
A caged Raccoon Dog
Chinese raccoon fur skins
Chinese raccoon dog pelts on sale in Milan, Italy

When used on clothing, the fur of the raccoon dog is called "murmansky" fur. In the United States it is marketed as "asiatic raccoon", and in Northern Europe as "finn raccoon".[30] Generally, the quality of the pelt is based on the silkiness of the fur, as its physical appeal depends upon the guard hairs being erect, which is only possible in silkier furs. Small raccoon dog pelts with silky fur command higher prices than large, coarse-furred ones. Due to their long and coarse guard hairs and their woolly fur fibre which has a tendency to felt or mat, raccoon dog pelts are used almost exclusively for fur trimmings. Japanese raccoon dog pelts, though smaller than other geographic variants, are the most valued variety, with specimens from Amur and Heilongjiang coming close behind, while Korean and southern Chinese are the least valued.[26] When raised in captivity, raccoon dogs can produce 100 grams of wool of slightly lesser quality than that of goats.[2]

In the Japanese islands, the natives employed raccoon dog skin to make bellows, to decorate their drums, and for winter head-gear.[19] Russian trade in raccoon dogs was quite developed in the Primorye and Ussuri areas in the 1880s. The world trade of raccoon dog pelts during 1907–1910 amounted to 260,000–300,000, of which it was once estimated that 20,000 (5–8%) came from Russia, though more recent figures estimate a lesser number of 5,000–6,000. 12,000 raccoon dogs were caught in the 1930s. In their introduced range, licensed trade of raccoon dogs began in 1948–1950, with restrictions being removed in 1953–1955.

After the trade began, the number of catches increased sharply; from 1953–1961, it fluctuated between 30,000–70,000. In the latter year, about 10,000 were taken from their natural range in the Far East, while 56,000 were taken in their introduced range. Of the 56,000, 6,500 came from Belarus, 5,000 in Ukraine, 4,000 each for Latvia, Lithuania and Krasnodar, 3,700 in Kalinin, 2,700 in Pskov, 2,300 in Astrakhan, while 1,000–2,000 pelts each were produced in Vologod, Moscow, Leningrad, Novogrod, Smolensk, Yaroslavl, Azerbaijan, Estonia and Dagestan. Fewer than 1,000 pelts were produced in all remaining republics and districts. Successful raccoon dog introductions in Kalinin resulted in animals with denser and softer fur: The length of guard and top hairs increased by 7.96%, that of the underfur by 5.3%. The thickness of the guard and top hairs decreased by 3.41%. The density of the fur increased by 11.3%. They also became darker in colour, with black-brown pelts occurring in 8% of specimens, as opposed to 3% in their homeland.[2]

Captive breeding of raccoon dogs was initiated in 1928 in the Far East, with 15 state farms keeping them in 1934. Raccoon dogs were the principal furbearers farmed during the early years of collective farms, particularly in the Ukraine. By the 1940s, this practice lessened in popularity, as the raccoon dogs required almost the same types of food as silver foxes, which were more valuable.[2] An investigation by three animal protection groups into the Chinese fur trade in 2004 and part of 2005 asserts approximately 1.5 million raccoon dogs are raised for fur in China.[31] The raccoon dog comprises 11% of all animals hunted in Japan.[32] Twenty percent of domestically produced fur in Russia is from the raccoon dog.[33]

Misrepresentation as artificial fur

In several widely publicized incidents, clothing advertised and sold as having synthetic faux fur, were documented as actually containing real fur from raccoon dogs.

On 22 Dec 2006, MSNBC reported Macy's had pulled from its shelves and its website two styles of Sean John hooded jackets, originally advertised as featuring faux fur, after an investigation concluded garments were actually made from raccoon dog.[34] Sean Combs, the label's founder, said he had been unaware of the material, but as soon as he knew about it, he had his clothing line stop using the material.

On 24 April 2008, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed a false advertising complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission alleging at least 20 retailers in the U.S. had been mislabeling raccoon dog fur. They assert 70% of fur garments they tested were raccoon dog but were mislabeled as faux fur, coyote, rabbit, or other animals.[35] In December 2009 Lord & Taylor announced new regulations banning the sale of raccoon dog fur in its stores.[36]

On 19 March 2013, three U.S. retailers settled lawsuits with the U.S. government following an investigation which confirmed they had been selling raccoon dog fur, but labeling it as fake (‘faux’) fur. Neiman Marcus, DrJays.com and Eminent (Revolve Clothing) reached settlements with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that do not incur financial penalties unless they mislabel the fur again.[37][38]

On 19 September 2014, The Humane Society of the United States announced Kohls has been selling raccoon dog fur as faux fur.[39]


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Further reading

External links

Andrew Marc

Andrew Marc is an American luxury fashion brand. The company originated as a leather goods label established in 1982. The company is headquartered just south of Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.


Azukiarai (小豆洗い, azuki bean washing), or Azukitogi (小豆とぎ, azuki bean grinding), is a ghostly phenomenon in Japanese folklore, in which a mysterious noise that sounds like azuki beans being washed or ground is heard. It usually occurs near a river or other body of water. Sometimes the creature or spirit responsible amuses itself by singing "azuki togou ka, hito totte kuou ka? shoki shoki." ("Will I grind my azuki beans, or will I get a person to eat? shoki shoki."), and anyone who approaches will inevitably fall into the water.While the perpetrator is seldom seen, he is often described as a short-statured man of grotesque appearance with a large balding head, crooked teeth, thin moustache, large bulging yellow eyes, wearing ragged clothes and bent over a pail washing azuki beans. Azukiarai is sometimes blamed on a tanuki (raccoon dog) or weasel.

Bunbuku Chagama

Bunbuku Chagama (Japanese: 分福茶釜 or 文福茶釜) is a Japanese folktale about a raccoon dog, or tanuki, that uses its shapeshifting powers to reward its rescuer for his kindness.


The biological family Canidae

(from Latin, canis, “dog”) is a lineage of carnivorans that includes domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, dingoes, and many other extant and extinct dog-like mammals. A member of this family is called a canid (, ).The cat-like feliforms and dog-like caniforms emerged within the Carnivoramorpha 43 million years before present. The caniforms included the fox-like genus Leptocyon whose various species existed from 34 million years ago (Mya) before branching 11.9 Mya into Vulpini (foxes) and Canini (canines).Canids are found on all continents, having arrived independently or accompanied human beings over extended periods of time. Canids vary in size from the 2-m-long (6 ft 7 in) gray wolf to the 24-cm-long (9.4 in) fennec fox. The body forms of canids are similar, typically having long muzzles, upright ears, teeth adapted for cracking bones and slicing flesh, long legs, and bushy tails. They are mostly social animals, living together in family units or small groups and behaving co-operatively. Typically, only the dominant pair in a group breeds, and a litter of young is reared annually in an underground den. Canids communicate by scent signals and vocalizations. They are very intelligent. One canid, the domestic dog, long ago entered into a partnership with humans and today remains one of the most widely kept domestic animals.

Clever Raccoon Dog

Clever Raccoon Dog is a North Korean animated television series produced by SEK Studios which aired on North Korean state television.

The series was produced for a number of years and features both old and new animation style, depending on the production year of each episode.

The series focuses on three main characters: A raccoon dog, A male bear and A female cat, often involved in minor adventures or incidents.

Each episode has a scholastic element or a particular message, focusing on matters as scientific information, road safety, commitment to sport and contests, among others. The first 9 episodes (episode 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 22, 23) are co-produced with the French animation studio Col.Ima.Son.


Danzaburou-danuki (団三郎狸, Danzaburō-danuki) is a bake-danuki passed down in stories on Sado Island, particularly in Aikawa and Niigata. In Sado, tanuki were called "mujina (狢)", thus he was also referred to as Danzaburou-mujina (団三郎狢). In the Ukiyo-e, its name was written as 同三狸." Together with the Shibaemon-tanuki of Awaji Island, and the Yashima no Hage-tanuki of Kagawa, they form the "three famous tanuki" of Japan.

Inugami Gyoubu

Inugami Gyōbu (隠神刑部) or Gyōbu-danuki (刑部狸) is a bake-danuki (a monster tanuki) told about in legends passed down in Matsuyama, Iyo Province (now Ehime Prefecture). He is known due to appearing in the "Tale of the Matsuyama Disturbance and the Eight Hundred and Eight Tanuki" (松山騒動八百八狸物語, Matsuyama Sōdō Happyakuya-danuki Monogatari), which is considered one of the big three tanuki tales along with the Shojoji no Tanuki-bayashi and Bunbuku Chagama.

Japanese raccoon dog

The Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), also known as tanuki (狸 or たぬき, [taꜜnɯki]) in Japanese, is a subspecies of the Asian raccoon dog.

Researchers have suggested that they be considered a separate species, N. viverrinus, or that raccoon dogs of Japan could be further divisible into separate subspecies as N. p. procyonoides (hondo-tanuki) and N. p. albus (ezo-tanuki), but both views are controversial.

As the tanuki, the animal has been significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary.

"Tanuki" is often mistakenly translated into English as "badger" or "raccoon" (as used in the US version of the movie Pom Poko and outlined in Tom Robbins' book Villa Incognito), two unrelated types of animals with superficially similar appearances. Traditionally, different areas of Japan had different names for raccoon dogs as animals, which would be used to denote different animals in other parts of the country, including badgers and wild cats; however, the official word in the standard Tokyo dialect is now "tanuki", a term that also carries the folkloric significance.

Kachi-kachi Yama

Kachi-kachi Yama (かちかち山, kachi-kachi being an onomatopoeia of the sound a fire makes and yama meaning "mountain", roughly translates to "Fire-Crackle Mountain"), also known as Kachi-Kachi Mountain and The Farmer and the Badger, is a Japanese folktale in which a tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) is the villain, rather than the more usual boisterous, well-endowed alcoholic.


Mujina (貉) is an old Japanese term primarily referring to the Japanese badger. In some regions the term refers instead to the raccoon dog (also called tanuki) or to introduced civets. Adding to the confusion, in some regions badger-like animals are also known as mami, and in one part of Tochigi Prefecture badgers are referred to as tanuki and raccoon dogs are referred to as mujina.


The Noppera-bō (のっぺらぼう), or faceless ghost, is a Japanese yōkai (legendary creature) that looks like a human but has no face. They are sometimes mistakenly referred to as a mujina, an old Japanese word for a badger or raccoon dog. Although the mujina can assume the form of the other, noppera-bō are usually disguised as humans. Such creatures were thought to sometimes transform themselves into noppera-bō in order to frighten humans. Lafcadio Hearn used the animals' name as the title of his story about faceless monsters, probably resulting in the misused terminology.

Noppera-bō are known primarily for frightening humans, but are usually otherwise harmless. They appear at first as ordinary human beings, sometimes impersonating someone familiar to the victim, before causing their features to disappear, leaving a blank, smooth sheet of skin where their face should be.


Nurocyon is an extinct member of the dog family (Canidae) from the Pliocene of Mongolia. Nurocyon chonokhariensis is the only species in the genus. The teeth of Nurocyon show adaptations to an omnivorous diet, comparable to the living raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides). The overall structure of the skull and dentition of Nurocyon are intermediate between the living genus Canis (dogs, wolves, and jackals) and the more primitive Eucyon.


Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.


Obake (お化け) and bakemono (化け物) are a class of yōkai, preternatural creatures in Japanese folklore. Literally, the terms mean a thing that changes, referring to a state of transformation or shapeshifting.

These words are often translated as ghost, but primarily they refer to living things or supernatural beings who have taken on a temporary transformation, and these bakemono are distinct from the spirits of the dead. However, as a secondary usage, the term obake can be a synonym for yūrei, the ghost of a deceased human being.A bakemono's true form may be an animal such as a fox (kitsune), a raccoon dog (tanuki), a badger (mujina), a transforming cat (bakeneko), the spirit of a plant—such as a kodama, or an inanimate object which may possess a soul in Shinto and other animistic traditions. Obake derived from household objects are often called tsukumogami.

A bakemono usually either disguises itself as a human or appears in a strange or terrifying form such as a hitotsume-kozō, an ōnyūdō, or a noppera-bō. In common usage, any bizarre apparition can be referred to as a bakemono or an obake whether or not it is believed to have some other form, making the terms roughly synonymous with yōkai.

Princess Raccoon

Princess Raccoon (オペレッタ狸御殿, Operetta tanuki goten) is a 2005 Japanese film directed by Seijun Suzuki. The "raccoon" of the English title is actually a translation for the tanuki or Japanese raccoon-dog. It is a love story set in the musical genre and stars Zhang Ziyi as a tanuki princess and Joe Odagiri as the banished prince she falls in love with. The film premiered at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.


Shibaemon-tanuki, or Shibaemon-danuki (芝右衛門狸 or 柴右衛門狸) is a Bake-danuki told in the legends of Awaji island, Hyōgo Prefecture. Along with Danzaburou-danuki of Sado island, and the Yashima no Hage-tanuki of Kagawa Prefecture, he is counted among the "three famous tanuki of Japan." He is also written about in the colorful stories collection of the Edo period, the Ehon Hyaku Monogatari. While disguised as a human and in the middle of performing an act, he was attacked by a dog and killed, but the details of the tale differ depending on region and literature.


Tanuki-bayashi (狸囃子) is a strange phenomenon of sound, told about in legends across Japan. In the middle of night, they are musical sounds like flutes or drums heard out of nowhere.


The genus Urocyon (from the Greek word for "tailed dog") is a genus that contains two (or possibly three; see next paragraph) living Western Hemisphere foxes in the family Canidae; the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and the closely related island fox (Urocyon littoralis), which is a dwarf cousin of the gray fox; as well as one fossil species, Urocyon progressus.Urocyon and the raccoon dog are the only canids able to climb trees. Urocyon is one of the oldest fox genera still in existence. Evidence of the Cozumel fox, a disputed extinct or critically endangered third species, was found on the island of Cozumel, Mexico. The Cozumel fox, which has not been scientifically described to date, is a dwarf form like the island fox, but a bit larger, being up to three-quarters the size of the gray fox.The genus Urocyon is considered to be the most basal of the living canids.

Yashima no Hage-tanuki

Yashima no Hage-tanuki (屋島の禿狸) is a Bake-danuki (化け狸, Supernatural raccoon dog), who appears in the legends of Yashima, Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture. He is also called Tasaburō-tanuki (太三郎狸), Yashima no Hage, and Yashima no Kamuro (屋島の禿). He is counted as one of the "three famous tanuki of Japan", along with Danzaburou-danuki of Sado and Shibaemon-tanuki of Awaji. He is also famous due to his appearance in the Studio Ghibli animated movie, Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu Pinyin
Yue: Cantonese
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinHáozi
Yue: Cantonese
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu Pinyin
Revised Romanizationneoguri
Extant Carnivora species

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