Despite its name, the only direct relationship
between the raccoon dog and the raccoon is
appearance -- stocky body, short legs, general
coloration, and black facial mask. And, although
it is a member of the dog family, the raccoon dog
is more closely related to foxes than to domestic
dogs. It has curved claws that allow it to climb
trees, making it the only canid capable of
climbing trees other than the grey fox.
An adult raccoon dog is 19-27 inches long,
including the tail, and weighs 8-22 pounds;
females are typically larger than males.
Distribution and Habitat
Native to eastern Siberia, northern China,
North Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, the raccoon dog
was introduced into Europe by the fur-farming
industry between 1927 and 1957 and is now
widespread throughout central and eastern Europe.
Found in subarctic and subtropical climates, it
prefers forests, forest borders, or areas of
dense vegetation, especially those bordering
water. Raccoon dogs can be found from sea level
to altitudes over 9,800 feet.
Habits and Behaviors
Raccoon dogs appear to live and hunt in pairs
or small family groups, but it is unknown whether
those pairs and family groups stay together
Unlike other canids, raccoon dogs are neither
social nor territorial. Although invividual home
ranges frequently overlap, neighboring raccoon
dogs rarely interact and there has never been a
documented case of two raccoon dogs fighting over
the same territory. Individuals that share a
common home range do "keep in touch"
with one another, however, by sharing a common
latrine area. Raccoon dogs use the latrine for
information exchange among family members as well
strangers. The animals modify their behavior
based on olfactory recognition of specific
individuals when they encounter one another.
Raccoon dogs do not bark, but they will whine,
whimper, or mew when being friendly or
submissive, and may growl when frightened or when
being aggressive. They also use use some body
postures--such as tail position--to indicate
dominance and readiness to mate.
Although they are primarily nocturnal, raccoon
dogs will extend their period of activity into
the dusk and dawn hours if they need to find
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. Where it does
occur, hibernation begins in November and may
extend through early April, depending on the
Like its namesake, the raccoon
dog is an opportunistic omnivore. On land,
it hunts insects, small rodents, reptiles and
amphibians, birds, and eggs. It will fish in
lakes, rivers, and streams using its paws to
scoop prey out of the water, and will even dive
underwater in search of a meal. On the seashore,
it will feed on crabs, sea urchins, and sea
carrion. Raccoon dogs also eat a variety of plant
materials -- stems, roots, leaves, bulbs, fruits,
nuts, berries, and seeds. And, in keeping with
its "raccoon reputation," a raccoon dog
is not above scrounging through human garbage or
feeding on carrion when its "normal"
food is in short supply.
Females come into heat once a year, between
January and March, depending on geographic
location and whether or not they have hibernated.
While in estrus, the female will be courted by
3-4 males, but how the final mating pair is
formed is not known. Once formed, a breeding pair
will stay together until the young are
independent; whether pairs reform year after year
has yet to be determined.
Gestation lasts 59-64 days, during which time
the male brings food to the female. Birth usually
takes place either in dense vegetation or in an
abandoned fox or badger burrow. The 5-7 pups are
born blind; their eyes will open on their 9th or
10th day, and teeth will begin to show by 14 to
16 days. The male will continue to bring food for
the mother until the pups are weaned, which
happens between 30 and 40 days of age. It takes
another 50-55 days for the pups to become
independent, during which time the entire family
will hunt for food together.
Raccoon dogs appear to reach sexual maturity
at 9-11 months. Average life span in the wild is
genus & species Nyctereutes procyonoides
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Nyctereutes_procyonoides/
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