- A new analysis of genetic data collected from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, has linked coronavirus to raccoon dogs
About Raccoon Dogs
- Raccoon dogs are neither dogs nor raccoons. They belong to the canid family and are closely related to foxes.
- They are the only canids that hibernate during the winter.
- Food habits: They are omnivores, dining on food sources like rodents and berries.
- Although they appear svelte in the summer, they pack on the pounds for winter, when their fur also becomes thicker. They are monogamous, often living in pairs.
- Distribution: Raccoon dogs are originally from East Asia and are commonly found in parts of China, Korea, and Japan, where they are known as tanuki.
- They are also found in Europe, where they were first brought in by fur traders in the 1920s.
- Today, raccoon dogs are considered to be a threat to the local ecosystem in Europe and an EU report declared them “one of the most successful alien carnivores in Europe.”
- However, in Japan, tanuki is revered.
- Threats: They are sold for meat and fur.
- Protection Status: Least Concern in The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Research and Experiments: Laboratory experiments have shown that raccoon dogs are susceptible to and capable of transmitting the novel coronavirus.
- But that does not mean that they are the natural reservoir for the virus.