Tanuki: The Dog That Thinks It’s A Raccoon

This is the only Canid that hibernates. It also looks like a raccoon. This is the Raccoon Dog.

Special thanks to Japan Trail Cam, Please check out their Youtube channel

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Animalogic Created by Dylan Dubeau and Andrew Strapp
Executive Producer, Director, and Director of Photography: Dylan Dubeau
Host: Danielle Dufault
Editors: Jim Pitts and Cat Senior
Writer, Researcher, Associate Producer, Camera Operator: Andres Salazar

Music Tracks from Audio Network:
Strutting Out
In Agreement
Sneaks And Ladders
Curious Incident
Primrose Hill Sparkle
Magical Maze
Pocket Pickers
Hyperactive Electro Monkeys


Examining the nature of the beast.

This fluffy bandit strikes terror in the 
hearts of every small creature it meets. It’s a tireless hunter whose belly 
is a hunger-fuelled bottomless pit   And whose domain is constantly expanding. Or is it an adorable magical creature 
who has charmed the hearts of millions? This cutie has many faces, and they’re all masked. This is the raccoon dog. Hi, I’m Danielle Dufault and 
you’re watching Animalogic. Today we’re talking about one of the cutest 
and fluffiest animals I’ve ever seen. They’re also kind of the black sheep of their 
family, but it’s really not their fault. Raccoon dogs are canids and are 
distantly related to dogs and wolves,   Though they’re more closely related to foxes. They’re the only members of the nycterectus genus, 
but within the genus their taxonomy is a mess. They’re found natively in Japan 
and continental east Asia. Some scientists believe that 
the Japanese raccoon dog,   Also known as tanuki, is its own species, 
while others say it’s just a subspecies. Others yet again, say that only 
some of the Japanese raccoon   Dogs are different enough to be 
considered a separate species. Of course that doesn’t really matter much 
to them, all they really care about is food. And who can blame them? These hungry, hungry creepos have 
the most varied diet of all canids. They pretty much will eat anything, 
from roots to fish to birds. They have a more well-balanced diet than me. And as a type-1 diabetic, I do pretty good. Rodents such as gerbils and voles are 
commonly taken throughout their range. In swampy areas they eat 
turtles and poisonous frogs,   And protect themselves from the toxins by 
producing extra saliva to dilute the toxins. Yep, they drool themselves 
into being immune to poison. During the winter, they’re able to supplement 
their diet with carrion and, weirdly, feces. Has it always got to be feces? This very diet might give 
them a bit of bad breath,   But it helps them survive the cold winter months. Though they have more survival skills 
than just having a black hole for a mouth. These ninja-like cuties are masters of stealth. Raccoon dogs are night time specialists.

Despite their abundance, they’re 
most often seen after dusk. This protects the young from diurnal 
predators such as eagles and humans. Their eyes are well adapted 
to low light conditions,   And their iconic black markings around 
their eyes help them reduce glare. This means that they’re less likely to 
be blinded by bright sources of light. It’s a tried-and-true technique 
that even soldiers and athletes use. And most importantly, it makes 
them look like furry doggy bandits. Their resemblance to trash pandas is a 
classic case of convergent evolution. These two nocturnal omnivorous mammals developed 
similar traits based on similar habits and needs. Like raccoons, who survive the frigid 
North American winters, raccoon dogs   Have a dense winter fur that protects them from 
the temperatures as low as -25 degrees celsius. But unlike their North American look-alikes, 
raccoon dogs hibernate to survive the lean months. They’re the only canids to do so, 
and, like other hibernating animals,   They rely on fat reserves to 
take them through the winter. Raccoon dogs will go into hibernation 
weighing about seven kilograms   And come out weighing just half of that. Those who don’t get fat enough 
are unlikely to survive the winter   In the cold parts of their range, like in Siberia. So don’t be too harsh on them for wanting 
to eat the world during the warmer months. They need to get as big as 
a pug by the end of fall. Wait, that’s it? They’re tiny but they look much 
bigger because of their fur. Of course, they’ll only 
hibernate when they need to   And those in the southern part of their 
range don’t need to hibernate as long. These wintering adaptations 
have caught the eye of humans,   Who see in their fur, a marketable product. They have been hunted throughout 
history to make coats and hats. Things took a turn in the early 
20th century when Russian trappers   Brought them to fur farms in the 
western part of their country   To make it easier to get furs without having 
to import them from thousands of miles away. This was, what we call in the 
business, a pretty bad move. As we all know these fluffy boys 
are gluttons and are capable of   Wiping out native species in just a few years. And that’s exactly what happened.

Some of those raccoon doggies escaped their 
fur farms and started breeding in the wild. Since then, they have become invasive 
in Western Russia, the Baltic States,   Finland, parts of Sweden, and 
throughout central and western Europe. They’ve been observed as far south as 
the French-Spanish border and the UK   Considers them a species likely to 
become invasive in the near future. Of course, they’re only trying to survive and it’s 
not their fault that they were taken from their   Native range, but they also pose a huge threat to 
local bird, amphibian, and reptile populations. Because of this, local governments 
are actively trying to cull them. But these guys are almost ghosts and are nearly   Impossible to catch without 
the help of hunting dogs. You’d think that since they live in the same areas 
as bears, tigers, and Amur leopards that they’d   Be considered easy prey, but they’re probably 
too small to be considered worth the hassle. The real bane of their existence is the wolf. In Eastern Russia over half of all 
raccoon dogs are killed by wolves. Other canids, such as foxes 
and feral dogs often take pups. And for trappers,   Their success rate increases from 10 percent 
to 50 percent when employing hunting dogs. It truly is a dog-eat-dog world. Back in Japan, tanukis have a much better 
reputation and are the subjects of legends. In local folklore, Japanese raccoon dogs have 
been said to possess supernatural powers,   Such as shapeshifting and the 
ability to possess people. These superpowers have been used 
in media such as Super Mario Bros,   Where you can get tanuki powers to fly. The source of their power is 
thought to be their giant scrotums,   Which are prominently displayed in tanuki art. So, it wasn’t that Mario was fat, he was just 
hiding his giant source of power in his pants. Here at Animalogic we leave no stone unturned, 
so we looked into it and it turns out that the   Tanukis stones aren’t nearly as big as 
the folk art might lead you to believe. But keep on thriving, you magical creatures. Try not to destroy Europe while doing so. So what should we talk about next? Please let me know in the comments and be 
sure to subscribe for new episodes every week. Thanks for watching, see ya.

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