There’s a strange critter running around the eastern world that might surprise you. Asia is home to a bizarre, yet adorable little animal that many people don’t even know exists.
It’s not often as an adult that you see an animal that you don’t recognize. That’s why when I started getting reports from friends that strange half-raccoon half-dog creatures were popping in and out of the bushes, I was skeptical. Probably just a scraggly stray dog, I said. Then one day someone snapped a photo of one in a botanical garden in Tokyo. It was definitely not a dog.
It was then that I learned of the racoons dogs of Asia. As it turns out, they are not fully raccoon or dog, though they are in the Canidae family of animals which would inch them a bit closer to the dog category. Which is interesting simply because they look far more like racoons.
Originally, raccoon dogs were only found in Asia, but have now been exported to various parts of Europe, as they were (and still are) used for fur. In the days of the USSR, the Soviet government thought that importing the animals would cause them to develop thicker, warmer fur. They were right, but didn’t quite realize what an invasive species they can be. They can now be found all over eastern Europe.
Unfortunately, the raccoon dog is not often looked upon as a favorable species these days. In the wild, they are considered pest animals, while in China there have been well-documented reports of skinning the animals alive for knockoff Ugg boots. There are videos of the procedure easily available, but I can’t bring myself to post the link. It is easily available with a quick Google search, but the footage is quite disturbing.
On the other hand, I will share these: