Procyon lotor). They have small heads (greatest length 133 mm) with pointed, low-profile rostra. The dental formula is i 3/3, c 1/1, p 4/4, m 2 or 3/3, total 42 or 44. Raccoon dogs have reduced carnassials and relatively large molars. Height ranges from 38.1 to 50.8 cm. Length from head to rump is 50 to 68 cm with a tail length of 13 to 25 cm. Legs are short, and overall the body is stocky. Body weight ranges from 4 to 6 kg in the summer to 6 to 10 kg in the winter before hibernation. On average, individuals in Europe tend to be larger than those in China and Japan. The existence of several subspecies of may account for this discrepancy. Mass of adult females in China and Japan is 0.5kg greater than males. (Sheldon, 1992; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990; Sheldon, 1992; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)has the appearance of a small fox-like canid with the fur markings similar to those of raccoons (
During mating, females are courted by 3 to 4 males. There is little fighting among males for mates. In captivity, both scent marking and male-female interaction increased during proestrus. Pair bonds form before copulation and remain until after offspring have become independent. An inverted U-shaped tail posture in males is associated sexual arousal and expresses dominance. After pairs mate and the female gives birth, males and females spend a significant amount of time together raising the pups. (Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)
Females come into heat once a year, after hibernation. Data from raccoon dogs in captivity show that estrus lasts from 3 to 5 days. Copulation occurs at the end of the cold part of winter in January, February, or March, depending on geographic location. Copulation ties are an average of 6 minutes. Gestation period ranges from 59 to 64 days. (Sheldon, 1992; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)usually gives birth in dense vegetation or in burrows that have been abandoned by foxes or badgers. Average litter size is 5 to 7, with the highest of 19 pups reported. Pups are born blind and have soft, black fur. Weight ranges from 60 to 115 g at birth depending on subspecies. Between the 9th and 10th day, pups' eyes open and teeth are visible by 14 to 16 days. Mothers wean their pups between 30 to 40 days of age. At this time, the typical face mask and the guard hairs are fully developed. Mass and size increase in a linear fashion until 50 to 60 days. Offspring are the size of small adults at 80 to 85 days of age. The offspring will reach sexual maturity at 9 to 11 months.
During late pregnancy, a female’s mate brings her food. After she gives birth, the male also has a role in postnatal care. The young are weaned at 30 to 40 days; the male typically watches over them while the female hunts for food. The male may also hunt while the female watches the young. At 4 months, the pups begin learning how to hunt by watching their parents. In a short time, they are self-supporting although they may remain with their parents, and hunt as a family, until the fall. At that point, they are independent. Between 9 to 11 months the offspring will have reached sexual maturity. (Sheldon, 1992; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)
The lifespan of (Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)in the wild is not known. In a study of trapped animals, the oldest males were in an age class of 5.5 years, and the oldest females were in an age clasee of 7.5 years. Of 320 raccoon dogs captured, 68.4% of the population was younger adults. In captivity, longevity can be greater than 14 years.
Radiotelemetry studies show that raccoon dogs live and hunt in pairs or small family groups. In most sightings by humans, however, they are solitary. It is unknown whether the duration of the pair bond formed during reproduction lasts the entire year. When sleeping or resting, pairs usually remain in contact with one another. Social grooming is also important in raccoon dogs. This behavior is linked to the dark facial mask in both this species and bat-eared foxes (Otocyon). (Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)
Although some studies have shown the species to be primarily nocturnal, recent studies show regular diurnal, crepuscular, and nocturnal activity. Increased duration of activity is probably due to the need to find enough small food items to eat. Raccoon dogs are not cursorial. These animals forage on the ground or on low vegetation. They also are able to swim or dive for food. Canidae. With its nose at the ground level, it wanders in search for food. Raccoon dogs are not fast animals, but they are relentless in their search for food. They are typified as collectors or gatherers. (Colby, 1965; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1989; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)relies on its sense of smell while hunting and foraging because it has relatively poor vision for a member of the family
Raccoon dogs hibernate in pairs. Hibernation begins in November and may extend through early April, depending on the local climate. An individual may gain as much as 50% of its body weight before hibernation. Hibernation is not absolutely necessary for this species. If an individual is unable to store enough fat beforehand, it will have to emerge from the den on warm winter days to forage. For this reason, some individuals may not hibernate at all. In the southernmost part of the range, raccoon dogs do not hibernate. (Sheldon, 1992; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)
A male-female pair will share the same home range and may remain close together when active. In areas of home-range overlap, neighbors do not interact. This confirms that (Kauhala, et al., 1993)is not territorial. Overall home range of this species varies from 2.8 to 200 ha. Population density of Japanese raccoon dogs (ranging from 0.46 to 0.86/ha) is greater than in Europe (ranging from 0.0014 to 0.048/ha). This disparity is due to environmental differences and the existence of a different subspecies in each area.
Raccoon dogs are vocal canids. However, they do not, like all other representatives of the order, bark. They may whine, whimper, or mew; these are all responses coupled with friendly or submissive behavior. They may growl when frightened or when being aggressive. (Sheldon, 1992; Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)
In addition to scent cues and vocal communication, these animals use some body postures--such as tail position--to indicate dominance and readiness to mate. Tactile communication if probably important between parents and offspring, as well as between mates.
Raccoon dogs also eat plant material— including stems, roots, leaves, bulbs, fruits, nuts berries, and seeds— according to the season and location. During the fall, they eat mainly vegetables, including a variety of fruits, wild berries, and seeds such as oats. In the winter, when food sources are limited, they may survive on human garbage and carrion. In Japan, raccoon dogs rely heavily on garbage, insects, fish, crabs, and plants such as buckthorn (Rhamnus), hornbeam (Carpinus), and a shrub (Aucuba japonica). In Finland, during the summers, they rely on small mammals (Mus musculus), plants, and amphibians; during the winter, they rely on carrion, small mammals, and plants. (Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)
Raccoon dogs are an important food source for various larger canids as well as humans. They are also responsible for controlling insect and rodent populations, but, because they are generalists, they do not affect any one species on a large scale. (Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)is prone to infections including mange, rabies, piroplasmosis, and helminths.
Raccoon dogs are capable of living in areas close to humans. They are often exterminated because they are carriers of diseases that can be trasmitted to humans and other animals. They are also killed for preying on small-game animals and other wildlife. (Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990)
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Kelly Carr (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
flesh of dead animals.
either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
active at dawn and dusk
a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
the regions of the earth that surround the north and south poles, from the north pole to 60 degrees north and from the south pole to 60 degrees south.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
Colby, C. 1965. Wild Dogs. New York: Duell, Sloan, Pearce.
Kauhala, K., E. Helle, K. Taskinen. 1993. Home range of the raccoon dog (Journal of Zoology, 231: 95-106.) in southern Finland.
Sheldon, J. 1992. Wild Dogs : The Natural History of the Nondomestic Canidae . San Diego: Academic Press.
Ward, O., D. Wurster-Hill. 1990. Mammalian Species: The American Society of Mammalogists, No. 358: 1-5. Accessed February 02, 2004 at http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Biology/VHAYSSEN/msi/..
Ward, O., D. Wurster-Hill. 1989. Ecological studies of Japanese raccoon dogs, Nyctereutes procyonoides. Journal of Mammalogy, 70: 330-334.
Yamamoto, I. 1984. Latrine Utilization and Feces Recognition in the Raccoon Dog. Journal of Ethology, 2: 47-54.