Tanuki – The Japanese raccoon dog

The tanuki (狸) or Japanese raccoon dog is a small canine animal from Japan, reaching 65 cm in length and weighing from 4 to 10 kg. One of its most recognizable physical features is its black markings around its eyes. They can be found in the mountains and plains, but are common in the woods and even seen in villages.

In some regions of Japan the tanuki raccoon dog may be known by the name of mujinaSome question whether a tanuki is a dog, raccoon, or badger, as the word mujina is used for both.

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Tanuki - the Japanese raccoon dog

Behavior and lifestyle

They are omnivores, but they can eat as much seeds as frogs, lizards and small rodents. Despite being wild animals, they are not aggressive animals, preferring to run away from a fight, even playing dead to avoid threats or predators.

They are animals that have only one partner during your life, its gestation lasts approximately 60 days, and the male helps to raise the young by supplying both them and the mate with food until the weaning period that lasts 50 days after birth. Watch 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 increase their body mass by 50% to store the fat. It also has other peculiar features such as curved claws that enable it to climb trees, and its teeth are relatively small.

Even though there are reports of people raising 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 are being bred for the use of fur, so much so that 11% of all animals hunted in Japan are Tanukis. But efforts are already being made to control and inhibit this type of practice throughout the country.

Like the fox, the tanuki is often depicted 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 playful, cheerful and friendly beings, yet they have malicious tendencies.

Tanuki - the Japanese raccoon dog

Tanuki in Japanese culture

Even though he was portrayed by the ancients as a scary and mysterious monster, today he has turned into a portrayal of generosity, fun and innocence, so much so that his statues are often seen in Japanese businesses and in people's homes, and especially outside. of restaurants and bars to attract customers.

Some believe in a legendary tanuki that can bring good fortune and luck. This tanuki has eight traits that are often found on sake bottles and statues. There is even a festival called Awa no Tanuki, which takes place in Tokushima in the month of November.

The tanuki became known in the west mainly through games such as in Super Mario Bros 3. Where the character Mario, I acquired a costume called Tanooki Suit, which gives him the ability to fly and transform into a statue that cannot be invincible.

Tanuki - the Japanese raccoon dog

Several anime and games have characters that represent the tanuki, either as an animal or as a half-human being. There are many other curiosities about tanuki, but that's for another time.

Would you like to know a little about the tanuki? Have you ever seen one in person? Have you noticed any references in anime and manga? Hope you enjoyed the article. We appreciate the comments and shares. Finally, we will leave other articles for you to read below:

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