There’s a lot of legend surrounding the Tanuki — otherwise known as the raccoon dog. From its memorable starring role in Tom Robbins’ Villa Incognito to its current status as Internet dreamboat, the cute furry Japanese creature famed for shape-shifting in fables is actually very much a wild animal — and a dangerous one. So if you think you absolutely need a Tanuki for your life to be complete — or if your children start begging for one — here are some things to keep in mind.
First of all, it’s not legal to own a Tanuki without a special exotic animal permit.
- Tanukis are rarely — and not easily — domesticated
- Tanukis are nocturnal
- Tanukis are hunters
- Tanukis are exotic animals
- Tanukis live in zoos, not homes. Zoo Atlanta has some.
- Tanukis, according the Japan Times, have their populations kept in check by ” cyclic attacks of mange, a debilitating skin disease caused by parasites, or by a form of the viral disease distemper”
- Side effects of mange can be fatal
Feeding a Tanuki, as in the video below, is against the recommendation of nearly every animal activist and expert in the world.