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raccoon dog

Raccoon Dog Facts

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Raccoons can climb trees, swim and dive

Raccoon dogs live in Europe and Asia. Although they look like raccoons, they are not related to raccoons. These animals are omnivorous and active at night and part of the day. Their lifespan is 6 to 11 years. They are social animals that live in pairs or small groups.

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Unbelievable fact!

  • These animals are closely related to foxes.
  • They produce an average of 6 babies per litter.
  • They eat birds, fish, insects and fruit.
  • These creatures have very poor eyesight.
  • They hibernate during extreme snowstorms.

scientific name

The common raccoon's scientific name is Nyctereutes procyonoides. The Greek word Nyctereutes means nocturnal wanderer: nykt (night), ereutes (wanderer). It belongs to the family Canidae and the class Mammalia.

japanese raccoon
There are four subspecies of the common raccoon, whose names reflect their location.

© Rock Thunderbird/Shutterstock.com

There are four subspecies of the common raccoon:

  • The Chinese raccoon ( N. p. procyonoides ) of eastern China
  • Korea's Korean raccoon ( N. p. koreensis )
  • Yunnan raccoon dogs ( N. p. orestes) in southeastern China and northern Vietnam
  • N. p. ussuriensis ) in Siberia and the Amur regions of Russia, northeastern China, and Korea; introduced to Europe.

The Japanese raccoon was once considered a subspecies ( N. p. viverrinus ), but the current view is that it is a separate species because of its larger skull and teeth. Other names for the common raccoon are Japanese badger, tanuki, mango, and Neoguri (the animal's Korean name).


The thick coat of the raccoon dog is a mixture of brown, gray, tan and black hairs. It has a black tail with a black stripe across its shoulders. Raccoon dogs have two black eyes and fox-like ears.

In addition to the black hair on the neck, the raccoon has black hair on its nose and black rings around its eyes. This black hair mask makes this animal look like a raccoon. Now you know how it got its name! But it actually has nothing to do with raccoons. In fact, its closest relative is the fox.

Cute closeup portrait of raccoon dog in winter forest
Coon dogs are named for their facial resemblance to a raccoon.

©Stanislav Duben/Shutterstock.com

In Japan and China, there are mango or civet cats with pure white fur. As the saying goes, if you see an all-white tanuki, you can expect good luck. Unfortunately, these civet cats are rare.

Adults measure between 20 and 27 inches. Adult animals weigh between 9 and 20 pounds. For example, a 20-pound raccoon dog weighs about the same as two medium-sized house cats. The heaviest known coonhound weighed 22 pounds.

Raccoon dogs have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell. This helps them find their prey, especially when hunting at night.


These mammals live and hunt in pairs or in small families. Social groups of raccoons are called packs. They try to avoid being seen, but can become aggressive if they feel threatened.

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The animal's brown coat allows it to blend into its environment to ward off predators. These mammals can also swim and climb trees to escape threats. The ability to climb trees is a trait they share with the gray fox, another member of the canidae family.


A side view of a raccoon dog on the grass
Raccoon dogs live in densely vegetated areas where they can hide and blend in with their environment.

©Christian Musat/Shutterstock.com

Raccoon dogs live in Europe and Asia. Specifically, they reside in China, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea, Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Germany, Sweden, and Finland.

These animals live in temperate climates. Their habitats include coniferous and broad-leaved forests as well as grasslands. They are also known to live in urban environments.

These mammals live in densely vegetated areas where they can hide and blend in with their environment. When food in their habitat becomes scarce, these mammals migrate to new territories where prey is more plentiful. They are adaptable and can travel long distances in search of food sources.

The activity of these animals slows down during the winter months from December to February. They hibernate, but only during severe snowstorms. They find an abandoned burrow dug by a badger or other animal and settle in during the colder months. These mammals hibernate in pairs.


Two raccoons in the forest
Raccoon dogs are omnivores, eating meat, fish and plants

© 663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

What do these animals eat? They are omnivorous and feed on birds, insects, lizards, snakes and mice. Plants, berries and nuts are also on the menu. This mammal can swim, so it catches frogs, crabs and fish in rivers and streams.

Some raccoon dogs live in urban environments where wildlife is scarce. So, they've been known to rummage through the trash and eat leftovers that people throw away. Sometimes raccoon dogs will steal birds' eggs from nests. In short, they adapt to whatever food is in their environment and are sometimes called scavengers.

Predators and Threats

Predators of raccoons include wolverines, wolves, bobcats, golden eagles and domestic dogs. If an animal cannot escape a predator, it can only defend itself with teeth and claws. Many of its predators were stronger and could outcompete the mammal.

Humans are another threat to these animals. Raccoon fur is in short supply, so they sometimes fall into traps set by poachers. Plus, in Japan, these animals are a delicacy.

Raccoons that live in urban environments close to home are considered pests because they can transmit diseases to pets and even humans. If they get into these environments, they are sometimes poisoned or shot. They can also be killed while trying to cross the road in busy areas.

Despite the presence of various predators and threats, the official conservation status of these animals is of least concern. Their populations are classified as stable.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

beautiful little raccoon dog
Raccoon babies weigh 2-6 ounces at birth and won't open their eyes for 10 days.

©Miroslav Hlavko/Shutterstock.com

The mating season for these animals starts in February and lasts until April. The female releases a scent to signal that she is ready to mate. Three or four males compete for her to see who is the strongest. Once a female and a male are paired, they are lifelong companions. This means they are monogamous.

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A female's gestation period is between 60 and 70 days. Raccoon babies, also known as cubs, are born in April or May. Females usually give birth to six pups per litter, but litters with as many as 15 or 16 pups have been reported. Both males and females help care for their young.

The pups are born with their eyes closed and a thin coat of coarse fur. They weigh 2 to 6 ounces. A 6-ounce raccoon dog puppy weighs the same as a pet hamster. Ten days later, the cub's eyes opened. They are nursed for the first 40 to 60 days of life, but start eating some solid foods at three weeks of age.

The cubs remain with their parents until they are four and a half months old. After that, they went out to live independently. They reach adulthood at 10 months of age. These mammals live from 6 to 11 years. The oldest recorded Japanese badger aka raccoon died at the age of 16. Its name is Tanu and it lives with a family in Japan.

As these mammals age, they become infested with parasites and fleas, and can develop mange. In some cases, they are known to carry the rabies virus.


The conservation status of these animals is Not Concerned. Although their exact numbers are unknown in many regions, scientists estimate that there are around 120,000 adult raccoons in Finland.

Populations of this mammal are classified as stable primarily because it is an adaptable creature that can find food and shelter in a variety of environments.

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Raccoon Dog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is a raccoon dog?

It is a mammal with a coat of fur on its face that looks a lot like a raccoon. But, despite the name, it has nothing to do with raccoons. Foxes are its closest relatives.

Raccoon dogs are omnivores and can swim, climb trees and walk long distances on the ground, making them very adaptable to their environment. Their conservation status is the least of concern.

Where do raccoon dogs live?

Raccoon dogs live in countries throughout Europe and Asia. Their habitats include grasslands and temperate forests. They have been known to hibernate during the winter when there are severe snowstorms.

Are Raccoon Dogs Dangerous?

No, they are not considered dangerous. However, any animal can become aggressive if it feels cornered or threatened by another animal or human.

What does a raccoon dog sound like?

Raccoon dogs will whine, growl and howl when interacting with each other. Regardless of their name, they don't wag their tails or bark. In fact, some scientists report that Japanese raccoon dogs sound more like cats than dogs.

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Are raccoon dogs legal in the US?

No, it is illegal to possess or even bring into the United States. One exception is zoos. The scientists and animal technicians working at the zoo will be able to properly care for a raccoon and keep it away from other animals.

Unfortunately, raccoons are considered an invasive species in the United States because they carry parasites, bacteria, and diseases that can easily infect other animals. Of course, it doesn't hurt to know more about them, as long as you don't try to take them home!

Are raccoons herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Raccoon dogs are carnivores, which means they eat other animals.

What kingdom does the raccoon dog belong to?

Raccoons belong to the animal kingdom.

What phylum do raccoon dogs belong to?

Raccoon dogs belong to the phylum Chordate.

What category do raccoon dogs belong to?

Raccoon dogs belong to the class Mammalia.

What family do raccoon dogs belong to?

Raccoon dogs belong to the canine family.

What order do raccoon dogs belong to?

Raccoons belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of mulch do raccoon dogs have?

Raccoon dogs are covered with fur.

What genus is a raccoon dog?

Raccoon dogs belong to the genus Nyctereutes.

What is the main prey of raccoons?

Raccoons prey on frogs, fish and rodents.

What are the natural enemies of raccoon dogs?

Natural enemies of raccoons include foxes, wolves, and feral cats.

What are the distinguishing characteristics of a raccoon dog?

Coon dogs have dexterous front paws and a pointed nose.

How many babies does the raccoon have?

The average number of babies for a Raccoon Dog is 8.

What are some fun facts about raccoon dogs?

Raccoon dogs are the only canids that hibernate!

What is the scientific name of the raccoon dog?

The scientific name of the raccoon dog is Nyctereutes procyonoides.

What is the lifespan of a raccoon dog?

Raccoons can live from 3 to 8 years.

How fast are raccoon dogs?

Raccoon dogs can travel as fast as 25 miles per hour.

What is the difference between a raccoon and a raccoon?

The main differences between raccoon dogs and raccoons are their family, shape, and size. Raccoons are part of the canid family, and raccoons are members of the raccoon family.

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