Green Wednesday: Racoon Dog!!

on 19 Sep 2012 

The raccoon dog , also known as the magnut or tanuki, is a canid indigenous to East Asia. It is the only extant species in the genus Nyctereutes. It is considered a basal canid species, resembling ancestral forms of the family. Among the Canidae, the raccoon dog shares the habit of regularly climbing trees only with the North American grey fox, another basal species. The raccoon dog is named for its resemblance to the raccoon to which it is not closely related.

Native East Asian raccoon dog populations have declined in recent years due to hunting, fur trade, urbanization, an increase of animals associated with human civilization such as pets and abandoned animals, and diseases that may be transmitted between them

Raccoon dogs are the only canids known to hibernate in winter. 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 period. During their winter sleep, their metabolism decreases by 25%. In areas such as Ussuriland 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 not vacate their burrows for more than 150–200 m. Their daily activities increase during February when the females become receptive and when food is more available.

Raccoon dogs are omnivores which feed on insects, mouse-like rodents, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, molluscs, carrion and insectivores.  They do not bark like foxes, uttering instead a growl, followed by a long-drawn melancholy whine.