Rare white raccoon dog caught


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.”

  • Caroline Wiggins

    I’m afraid this is all too common in Japan. This is a wild animal, not a pet or someone’s possession. For its sin of being white, it is now in a tiny cage in a brightly lit place (tanukis are mainly nocturnal) with no doubt all the farmer’s friends turning up to take flash pictures and will end up in a “zoo or similar facility”. He has no idea who will take it yet, just thought he would like to catch it and then hope someone will offer to take it in. Anyone who has been to any of Japan’s animal “facilities” will know that they are not famous for their enlightened attitudes towards animals in captivity. I have seen many places where solitary wild animals like monkeys or boars or deer are kept in a cage, often in totally incongruous places like a camping area or a mountain park and the worst of it is when you ask why they are there, you get no reasonable answer. This is a wild animal. It is not going to thank you for putting it into a cage for the rest of its natural days. If it had been a normal colour, it would have been treated as vermin by most farmers here. Let the bloody thing go.

    • MayMay

      I agree. She looks so unhappy in her cage. I doubt she’d be happy in a zoo..

    • MaryAlice Pollard

      Poor little one, needs to be released if possible in a safe area – not kept ina cage or zoo facility. Bless her – hope she will be ok