Raccoon Dog - Nyctereutes procyonoides
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Short description of Nyctereutes procyonoides, Raccoon Dog
The raccoon dog is a fox-sized mammal with short legs and tail and mainly blackish-grey fur. There are raccoon-like black markings across the face but this species lacks the raccoon's long banded tail.
Impact summary: Nyctereutes procyonoides, Raccoon Dog
The raccoon dog is a predator on birds and amphibians and may affect the nesting success or population sizes of their prey. It is one of the most important vectors of rabies in Europe and can also carry sarcoptic mange and the fox tapeworm.
Habitat summary: Nyctereutes procyonoides, Raccoon Dog
Raccoon dogs occupy mainly damp forest habitats with abundant undergrowth and are typically found near water.
|Native range||Russian Far East, China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam|
|Status in England||Non-Native|
|Status in Scotland||Non-Native|
|Status in Wales||Non-Native|
|Location of first record||?|
|Date of first record||Unknown|
The species is native to much of China, Mongolia, parts of eastern Siberia, Japan, Korea and northern southeast Asia.
There was a report of a raccoon dog killed near Loch Lomond in the 1990s but the first confirmed sighting was in Berkshire in July 2005.
Pathway and Method
The species was introduced deliberately to Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and European Russia between 1929 and 1955, and also escaped from fur farms in eastern Europe. Since then, the range of this species has expanded westwards.
Raccoon dogs have spread from their introduced range, in eastern Europe, westwards to include northern Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Bulgaria by 1999. The species is regarded as one of the most invasive non-native animals in Europe.
Most young animals disperse on reaching the age of 4–5 months, mostly during August–October. The average dispersal distance is less than 20 km but some animals travel further than 160 km.
The mating season begins mainly in March and cubs are born during April–June, after 9 weeks' gestation. The average litter size in Europe is between 7 and 9. Raccoon dogs are capable of breeding in their first year and the proportion of breeding females in the population is around 80%.
Raccoon dogs, mainly young animals, are preyed upon by wolves, red foxes, dogs, lynx and large predatory birds.
Habitat Occupied in GB
Not yet present in GB.
There was a record of this species in Berkshire in 2005.
Raccoon dogs are omnivorous and seem to have found a vacant niche in western Europe. They may compete for food and dens with native animals such as red fox and badger and their predation on birds and amphibians may at times affect prey populations. They are carriers of diseases such as sarcoptic mange and tapeworms that can affect native mammals.
Health and Social Impact
Raccoon dog is one of the main vectors of rabies in Europe. In conjunction with red foxes, they can raise the density of susceptible animals to the point where a rabies epizootic could break out.
There are economic costs associated with raccoon dogs as a carrier of rabies, for example in treating them with oral rabies vaccinations.
Macdonald, D. & Barrett, P. (1993) Mammals of Britain & Europe. HarperCollins, London.
Wilson, D.E. & Mittelmeier, R.A. (eds) (2009) Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 1: Carnivores. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Biology, ecology, spread, vectors
Ansorge, H., Ranyuk, M., Kauhala, K., Kowalczyk, R. & Stier, N. (2009) Raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides populations in the area of origin and in colonised regions – the epigenetic variability of an immigrant. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 46, 51–62.
Kauhala, K. & Auniola, M. (2001) Diet of raccoon dogs in summer in the Finnish archipelago. Ecography, 24, 151–156.
Kauhala, K., Holmala, K. & Schregel, J. (2007) Seasonal activity patterns and movements of the raccoon dog, a vector of diseases and parasites, in southern Finland. Mammalian Biology, 72, 342–353.
Mitchell-Jones, A.J., Amori, G., Bogdanowicz, W., Kryštufek, B., Reijnders, P.J.H., Spitzenberger, F., Stubbe, M., Thissen, J.B.M., Vohralík, V. & Zima, J. (1999) The Atlas of European Mammals. T. & A.D. Poyser, London.
Management and impact
Singer, A., Kauhala, K., Holmala, K. & Smith, G.C. (2009) Rabies in North Eastern Europe – the threat from invasive raccoon dogs. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 45, 1121–1137.
Spotted this species?
View the Distribution map for Raccoon Dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides from NBN Atlas
Native range map
Nyctereutes procyonoides is a Species of Special concern. Read more about Non-native species legislation.
A horizon scanning exercise conducted in 2019 identified this species as one of the top 30 non-native species most likely to become invasive in Britain over the next ten years.