A raccoon dog is a species of carnivorous mammal that looks like a raccoon. Both types of animals do have a number of similar characteristics, but differ from each other in a number of ways. Zoologists say that these two animal species are not close relatives. The raccoon dog has more in common with the fox than with the raccoon.
This animal has many other names depending on the region of habitat – raccoon, Ussuri raccoon, mangut, tanuki, neoguri.
View Origin and Description
The animal is a representative of chordate mammals. It belongs to the order of predators, the canine family, it is allocated to the genus and species of the canine family. The exact origin and evolution of the animal is still not thoroughly understood. Geographically, zoologists call the East Asian countries the homeland of the animal: Korea, Japan, China, the northeastern regions of Indochina.
In Europe, the animal first appeared in the 50s of the 19th century. They were brought to European territory in the amount of several thousand deliberately. It was assumed that more suitable climatic conditions of existence, as well as an abundance of a food source, would make the animal’s fur better. In Europe, animals quickly adapted and bred.
Video: Raccoon Dog
In the middle of the 20th century, animal populations were seen in many European countries: Sweden, Estonia, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, France, in the Crimea. On the territory of Russia, populations were noted in the regions of Altai Krai, Novosibirsk, and Irkutsk Region. However, the climate is too harsh, and severe frosts did not allow animals to survive here. Subsequently, the animals chose regions with a milder, temperate climate as their habitat.
To date, scientists have not been able to reach a consensus regarding the origin of this species of animals. Many believe that the raccoon dog has the most similar characteristics with foxes, therefore, they have common relatives. Others are inclined to believe that the manguts and raccoons still had common ancestors in the distant past.
Appearance and Features
In appearance, the raccoon dog is very similar to the raccoon. This is a small animal. Body dimensions rarely exceed the size of an average dog. The body length of an adult is 65-85 centimeters. Animals have a rather long tail for their build. Its length is 15-30 centimeters. Body weight – 5-10 kilograms. During the summer, animals, as a rule, lose weight, and by autumn, on the contrary, they accumulate fat deposits to the maximum for the winter and become very well-fed.
Ussuri raccoons have a small body and very short limbs. The fore and hind limbs are four-fingered. The fingers have long claws. Because of the short legs, the body seems strong, and very stocky.
The muzzle of the animal is slightly elongated. In shape and color, the dog is very similar to a raccoon; from afar, they are almost indistinguishable. The muzzle is distinguished by an elongated, pointed nose. The nose is framed by several rows of long mustaches. The head is covered with long fur. A distinctive feature is the presence of ash-colored whiskers and peculiar “glasses”, which are stripes of black wool around the eyes. These features allow the animal to remain unnoticed among the forest vegetation.
The eyes of the raccoon dog are round and deep set. Most often they are black or dark brown. On the head are small, triangular, protruding ears. The coat of the animal is long, thick, slightly stiff. The color of the coat is dark brown, or dark gray. On the muzzle there are stripes that make it look like a raccoon. The tail, on the contrary, has no stripes.
Interesting fact. In nature, individuals of a red color are often found, which outwardly are very similar to a fox, as well as albino dogs of a light, almost white color.
In the abdomen, the coat is lighter than in other parts of the body. There is a dark stripe in the region of the spinal column. Twice a year, raccoon dogs molt. In autumn, the animal molts, starting from the tail to the head. In spring, on the contrary, from the head to the tail.
Where does the raccoon dog live?
A representative of the canine family lives on the territory of forest and mountain forests. He likes to settle in valleys and estuaries of reservoirs, where thickets of reeds, reeds, or other vegetation are present on the coastline. Among the forests, coniferous or terraced plant species are preferred. An important feature is the climatic conditions. Animals do not take root in regions with a harsh frosty climate.
The average annual temperature should not fall below zero. At the same time, the amount of snow cover in winter is no more than 700-800 mm. Raccoon dogs live over a large area. Also an important criterion in determining the habitat is the availability of a food source.
Geographic regions of the Ussuri raccoons:
Initially, the animals lived in the Amur region, in the northern region of China, in the Ussuri River basin, on the Korean Peninsula, on the islands of Hokaido and Handyu. In the 30-40s of the 20th century, the fur industry began to actively develop on the territory of the USSR. In this regard, livestock farms were created in many regions of Russia, where animals were bred in order to obtain valuable fur. It was during this period that raccoon dogs were massively imported into the territory of European countries. They quickly spread to many countries.
On the territory of the Scandinavian countries, the raccoon is considered a pest and carrier of dangerous diseases. There, measures are being developed and implemented to limit their impact on the environment. In the northern regions of Russia, animals could not take root due to the harsh climate. However, populations in the European regions of the country have become numerous.
What does a raccoon dog eat?
Raccoon dogs are predatory animals, and the main source of their food is food of animal origin. Ussuri raccoons are often voracious and very voracious. Behind them there is also a tendency to robbery tricks. Animals are considered practically omnivorous animals.
What is included in the diet of animals:
- Small rodents – gerbils, field mice;
- Birds – capercaillie, black grouse, woodpeckers, etc.;
- Bird eggs;
- Insect larvae;
- Insects – dung beetles, water lovers, swimmers;
- Fruits, berries;
- Various types of plants;
- Amphibians – the advantage of the frog.
Raccoon dogs are able to catch large fish, but most often this happens near the coastline or in a drying pond.
When there is no food of animal origin, these representatives of the canine family can satisfy their hunger with various types of vegetation. It can be bulbs, berries, roots, seeds. With pleasure they eat oats, nuts, fruits, melons. The choice of food source depends on the season. Anything that can be eaten at a certain time of the year, the animals eat with pleasure.
Raccoon dogs have a rather long intestine, underdeveloped fangs and flat molars.
Animals can change their habitat, move several tens of kilometers in search of food. In the absence of a food source, it does not disdain food waste and carrion, as well as rotten fish. In the spring, raccoons hunt for bird nests and eat their eggs in large numbers. During the summer, they need a huge amount of food in order to accumulate enough fat for the winter. Despite the fact that the animal can eat almost everything, half of the diet should be food of animal origin.
In search of food, raccoons carefully examine the territory, looking under bushes, snags, stumps, as well as dense thickets. In winter, when snow falls, Ussuri raccoons stop long movements in search of food. Their small, short paws get stuck in snowdrifts, preventing them from moving for considerable distances.
Character and lifestyle features
The animal leads a sedentary lifestyle, choosing a certain region. Most often, the area of u200bu200bthe site for the habitation of one adult is 7-11 square kilometers. The animal leaves it only when the area is flooded due to spring floods, or if it is not possible to find enough food. Sometimes the sections overlap each other. However, in an attempt to protect their territory, animals do not show aggression.
The activity and lifestyle of the raccoon depends on the amount of food, the prevalence of enemies in the area, and climatic conditions. In most cases, it leads a more nocturnal lifestyle. During the day it hides in burrows, at night it goes hunting or looking for food. During the day, he is active only during the period of marriage. If for a long period of time the animal does not notice nearby people or predatory enemies, it can become more courageous and actively behave even during daylight hours.
It moves most often with mincing steps, sometimes turning into a trot. When danger approaches, the raccoon can run at a gallop, but is not able to reach high speed. Swampy swampy areas, as well as sands, deep snow drifts are a significant problem and an obstacle that the animal is not able to cope with. Only a pond helps to escape from persecution in such an environment. The Ussuri raccoon is an excellent swimmer.
Lives mostly in burrows. For living, it can use abandoned burrows of other animals. Gorges in stones, trees, as well as mounds in moist soil can also be used as houses. Heaps of foliage, hay or straw are often used as a short-term shelter. There may be several such temporary houses. Permanent, and most importantly, housing serves as a shelter for the winter, a place for immersion in hibernation, as well as for the birth of cubs. Various relationships develop between individuals of different sexes.
Types of relationships between individuals of different sexes:
- Formation of a pair for the period of marriage to breed and educate offspring;
- A female and a male do not part for one year;
- A pair of opposite-sex predators are attached to each other throughout their lives;
- Regardless of the type of relationship, during the existence of the tandem, animals hunt and trying to protect themselves from enemies together.
Surprisingly, the Ussuri raccoons are the only representatives of the canine family, which are characterized by hibernation. This quality allows them to easily endure frost and winter cold. It begins in the middle, or at the end of October, beginning of November and ends in March.
Animals that could not gain enough weight do not hibernate, as well as residents of those regions where warm and snowless winters.
Social structure and reproduction
The period of onset of marriage depends on the climatic conditions of the region in which the animals live. Most often it starts in early March and lasts until the end of April. With the onset of cold weather or frost, it is transferred to a later period before the onset of heat. By nature, furry predators are monogamous. Pairs are created most often in the autumn. Males often fight for the right to mate with a female.
Interesting fact. When bred in captivity, they are monogamous, and one male can enter into marriage with several females at once.
The female’s estrus lasts from several days to a week. The mating process occurs most often during the dark hours of the day. After 5-7 days after the end of the mating season, females begin estrus again. The gestation period lasts 2-2.5 months. One female can give birth to 5 to 15 cubs. The number of cubs is determined by the fat reserves of the mother. Feeding, protecting and raising offspring is a joint parental task, and they perform it on an equal footing. Offspring are born most often in late spring or early summer.
Babies are born blind. Their body is covered with fluff, soft and thick. The weight of one puppy is 50-100 grams. At birth, male puppies are somewhat larger. The eyes open after 7-10 days, and after 2-3 teeth erupt. The cubs feed on mother’s milk for up to one to two months. From three to four weeks of age, they begin to eat insects, larvae, frogs and rodents, which are mined by their parents. They develop and gain body weight quite quickly.
Sexual maturity is reached by 10-11 months. Life expectancy in natural conditions is 4-6 years, in captivity it almost doubles.
Natural enemies of raccoon dogs
When living in natural conditions, a raccoon dog has quite a few enemies. They can be attacked by wolves, which are considered the main enemies of raccoons. In addition, lynxes, wild or stray dogs, as well as adult foxes pose a threat to the number of animals.
Man poses the greatest threat to animals. He exterminates the raccoon in large numbers because of the valuable fur. The fur is highly durable, as well as a large amount of fluff. Hunting for animals is often carried out at night, or in winter following tracks in the snow. Dogs often participate in the hunt, and it is not difficult for them to find the habitat of a small predator.
Species population and status
The raccoon dog is considered a fairly common animal that is not currently threatened with extinction.
However, in some countries, animals are destroyed because of their valuable fur or the harm they cause. Furry predators are prone to various diseases. Diseases spread mainly in winter. Animals suffer from parasites, piroplasmosis, tuberculosis, canine distemper, and rabies.
The Ussuri raccoon is a very beautiful animal. At the moment, he is not in danger. The raccoon dog is often domesticated by humans, in some cases even amenable to training. When living in captivity with good care and adequate nutrition, it can live up to 15 years.