Raccoon or Dog? Tanuki Is a Bit of Both - 12 Pictures

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Tanuki or a raccoon dog is neither a dog or a raccoon, it is only got that name because of the obvious appearance related reason. But if we had to decide, raccoon dog is actually closer to a dog than he is to a raccoon. This is because of the animal family it is a part of, the Canidae family, which also includes dogs, wolfs, foxes, and other dog like animals.

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Raccoon dog is also a part of the Japanese folklore where it is a symbol of good luck and wealth. In the Japanese culture, tanuki is considered to be a magical creature called bake danuki that has shape shifting abilities. Even though in their mystical stories bake danuki is a harmful demon, they also think tanukis bring wealth, and because of that belief there are tons of little tanuki figures that people buy hoping it will bring them good luck.

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If you thought an animal that looks like a raccoon and a dog is odd enough, than you got it wrong. Tanukis don’t bark like dogs, they actually sound more like cats. Because of their high pitched calling you might mistake a raccoon dog for a cat in case you don’t see it. They are also capable of meowing at a great variety of frequencies depending on what they want to say, weather they are hungry or just looking for a playmate.

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Raccoon dogs are also known to hibernate during the winter, which makes them unique in the Canidae family, since they are the only canids that actually hibernate. Their hibernation is not always necessary so sometimes, if the winter isn’t too harsh, they wont hibernate. But if they sense that the winter will be very cold with snowstorms, they will gradually start preparing for hibernation.

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Their preparations will start at the early winter before first snow storms start. When we say preparation for hibernating we basically mean getting fat, which is exactly what they are trying to do before winter. They will gradually increase their body fat by one quarter of their current fat weight. Tanukis that fail to do this usually don’t make i through the winter. The ones that do will be ready to hibernate in their burrows. When the hibernation process starts, their metabolism will decrease by roughly 25%, and they will usually stay like that until the beginning of February because at that time food becomes more accessible, and the mating period will soon start.

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