YONAGO – A rare all-white “tanuki” raccoon dog, viewed as a lucky omen, has been captured alive on a farm in Nanbu, Tottori Prefecture, near the Sea of Japan coast.
Farmer Shunji Okuyama, 62, said he found the 40-cm-long animal Tuesday night in a trap he had set up in a cowshed. It is thought to be a female less than a year old. Okuyama said raccoon dogs are common to the area but that this is the first white one he’d seen.
Although raccoon dogs usually live in hilly forests, the animal most likely broke into the cowshed to shelter from Typhoon Wipha or eat the cattle’s feed.
Nanbu wildlife observation instructor Maki Kirihara, 39, said the raccoon dog’s coat is likely to have been inherited, rather than caused by a spontaneous mutation, such as albinism.
“It is unusual for it to have survived, having not been preyed upon despite standing out,” Kirihara said.
Okuyama is looking for a zoo or similar facility to take care of the raccoon dog.
“It’s cute even when it’s asleep,” Okuyama said. “It would be great if a lot of people could see it.”