tanuki

tanuki or raccoon dog, omnivorous mammal, Nyctereutes Procyonoides, of the dog family, native to the forests of E Asia. The tanuki is similar in appearance to a dog but has black, masklike facial markings resembling a raccoon's and a screeching cry. The fur is yellow gray to reddish brown, with black markings on the shoulders, legs, and tip of the tail. They are from 19 to 26 in. (48–66 cm) long, with short legs and a 6-in. (15-cm) tail, and weigh from 8 to 22 pounds (3.5–10 kg). Tanuki live in pairs; both parents care for the young. Cenerally nocturnal, they are scavengers, and eat voraciously before going into a winter torpor, from which they emerge on warm days to forage. Prone to playing dead when surprised, they are legendary in Japanese folklore as tricksters. Tanuki were raised in European Russia during the Soviet era for fur, and have since become common in parts of Europe. The tanuki is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Canidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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