Posts Tagged ‘Marderhund’

Raccoon dog puppy

(Source for image)

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Despite the comments on this video, there are no raccoons in Finland.

This animal was introduced as a fur-bearer to the former Soviet Union (Latvia, which is now an independent country on the Baltic). It is native to Asia, not Europe.

However, there are raccoons in Central and Western Europe. They were introduced by the Nazis to Germany. The Soviets also turned out raccoons in the Caucasus and in Byelorussia/Belarus. Neither of those populations is found in Western Europe.

So blame the Soviets for the raccoon dog.

And blame the Nazis for the raccoons.

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Raccoon dogs are strange dogs. When I say raccoon dogs, I’m not talking about coonhounds. I’m not talking about “Ol’ Blue.”

I am talking about an unsual canid that was originally found only in Asia, but  the Soviets introduced them to Latvia after World War II. Their range expaneded rapidly to encompass a wide range of Europe.

This species is one of those primitive dogs, like the gray fox. And like the gray fox, the raccoon dog can climb trees. However,  it is not as good at it as the gray fox is.

These dogs go into a kind of hibernation during the coldest months of the winter. They go torpid during this time period, just like the true raccoon.

In parts of Europe, especially Germany, both introduced raccoons and introduced raccoon dogs live in the same forests. But they are not that closely related.

If you would like to see one bayed by a Finnish hound, check out the video below:

These animals are a bit of pest in parts of their range. They kill lots of small animals and destroy ground bird’s nests.

Raccoon dogs can be kept as pets in some European countries. However, these are fundamentally wild animals, and they don’t have all the nice traits that make domestic animals so easily to deal with.

The raccoon dog is a strange animal. We don’t have them in North America, so when people see pictures of them, they think they are large raccoons. Or if they hear the term “raccoon dog,” they think of Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s really just another species of wild dog, albeit a rather strange one.

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