The tanuki (狸) or Japanese raccoon dog is a small canine animal from Japan, reaching 65 cm in length and weighing 4 to 10 kg. One of its most recognized physical characteristics is its black markings around the eyes. They can be found in the mountains and plains, but are common in the woods and seen even in villages.
In some regions of Japan the tanuki raccoon dog may be known by the name of mujina. Some question whether a tanuki is a dog, raccoon or badger, as the word mujina is used for both.
Behavior and lifestyle
They are omnivores, but they can eat both seeds, frogs, lizards and small rodents. Despite being wild animals, they are not aggressive animals, preferring to flee a fight even pretending to be dead to avoid threats or predators.
They are animals that have just one partner during your life, its gestation lasts approximately 60 days, and the male helps to raise the young, supplying both them and the companion in the feeding until the weaning period that lasts 50 days after birth. See a video about tanuki below:
They are the only ones of their kind that in the cold period of the year enter a state similar to hibernation, but before that they even increase their body mass by 50% to store the fat. It also has other peculiar characteristics such as curved claws that enable them to climb trees, and their teeth are relatively small.
Even though there are reports of people who create them as domestic animals, many hunt these poor animals to use their meat reputed to have medicinal qualities and their skins for clothing. In a survey carried out between 2004 and 2005, it was pointed out that about 1.5 million raccoon dogs were being bred for the use of fur, so much so that 11% of all animals hunted in Japan they are the Tanukis. But efforts are already being made to control and inhibit this type of practice across the country.
Like the fox, the Tanuki it is often represented in Japanese folklore with the ability to change its original form. He is depicted in paintings and statues wearing a straw hat and holding a bottle of sake. He also appears in the arts with a big belly and a huge scrotum. They are portrayed in tales as beings pranksters, cheerful and friendly yet have tendencies malicious.
Tanuki in Japanese culture
Even though he was portrayed by the ancients as a frightening and mysterious monster, today he has become a portrait of generosity, fun and innocence, so much so that his statues are often seen in Japanese companies and in people's homes, and especially outside restaurants and bars to attract customers.
Some believe in a legendary tanuki that can bring good fortune and luck. This tanuki has eight strokes that are often found in sake bottles and statues. There is even a festival called Awa no Tanuki, which takes place in Tokushima in November.
The tanuki became known in the West mainly through games like in Super Mario Bros 3. Where the character Mario acquired a costume called Tanooki Suit, which gives you the ability to fly and transform into a statue that cannot be invincible.
Several anime and games have characters that represent the tanuki, either as an animal or as a half human. There are many other curiosities about the tanuki, but it is for another time.
Did you like to know a little about the Tanuki? Have you ever seen one in person? Have you noticed any reference in anime and manga? I hope you enjoyed the article. We appreciate comments and shares. Finally, we will leave other articles for you to read below: