Print Posted By Lost in France on 3 Apr 2009 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

The Raccoon Dog

The Raccoon Dog looks very much like a raccoon but is in fact a member of the dog family which has spread to France from its native habitat of south-east Siberia, China and Japan after being introduced to western parts of Russia for its fur and hunting.

A young and inquisitive Raccoon Dog


During the early part of the year the Raccoon Dog is about the size and shape of a fox but with slightly shorter legs, however in order to survive the very cold winters in their native climate Raccoon Dogs must put on a huge amount of weight often 10lb or more giving them a fat, squat like appearance by late autumn. They have a long grey to brown coat with a bushy tail and their faces bear a broad white or yellow stripe across the forehead giving them a Raccoon like look.

Habitat and Diet

Their habitat is varied and they are very adaptable but generally prefer forested areas and rocky banks on lakes and rivers where it is easier for them to find food. They are extremely good swimmers and fish and amphibians form a large part of their diet. They will also eat small mammals such as mice and rodents as well as fruit and acorns.

Breeding and Behaviour

Raccoon Dogs are primarily nocturnal and live in small family groups, they are shy non aggressive animals that will often make a screaming sound or even play dead when approached by larger animals. They are adept climbers and have curved claws which enable them to easily climb trees. Their breeding season begins in the early spring and up to 5 cubs are born after a gestation period of 60 days. Both parents help to care for the young which are fully weaned after about 50 days.

At the onset of winter the Raccoon Dog retreats underground into its burrow or den and spends the coldest part of the season in a state of semi hibernation living off its fat reserves and only emerging during mild spells to look for more food.


In the wild the Raccoon Dog lives for 3-4 years, in some countries they are popular as pets and in captivity it have been known to live up to 11 years.


The Latin name for the Raccoon dog is Nyctereutes procyonoides and in French it is known as Chien viverrin

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