Raccoon dogs are native to Japan, Korea, north Vietnam, northern China and eastern Siberia, they have only relatively recently been introduced to parts of Europe. Which is why it was such a surprise when two of these curious creatures arrived on our doorstep having been discovered roaming free in Wales.
They were brought to us at West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset and once we’d established that the pair were fit and healthy we had to create a habitat as close to their natural environment as possible.
As we’ve never had to give shelter to these exotic animals before it was time to do some research, here’s what we’ve discovered:
- Raccoon dogs are generally forest dwelling animals that seem to prefer living near water and are most active at night.
- Like some of our native species such as the badger and hedgehog, raccoon dogs will hibernate throughout the winter.
- They are omnivorous and in the wild would eat a selection of rodents, amphibians, fish, insects, berries, fruits and most notoriously…rubbish.
- Studies have suggested that in the wild they may live and hunt in pairs or small family groups.
The right habitat for raccoon dogs
Bert and Lisa, who I have secretly named, show a great affection for one another therefore we have ensured they are kept together to decrease stress. We’re mimicking the animal’s natural diet where possible and luckily our onsite brambles are still full of fruit so autumnal blackberry treats are added to their feeds. They both appear to have a healthy appetite, which is a great sign.
We’ve moved them into one of our enclosures, which has both an indoor and an outdoor area, providing them with shelter and space to roam in the open air.
We’re still pursuing leads on how they came to be foraging in the wild habitats of Britain, it’s possible they were kept as exotic pets and abandoned when they became expensive or difficult to look after. It’s certainly not easy to meet their needs; after all they’re a wild animal.
That said there is simply no excuse for leaving them to fend for themselves in an unfamiliar environment.
And, if you haven’t seen the video of these two amazing raccoon dogs yet, check out the news story: Two raccoon dogs found in mid Wales.