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Tanuki (狸 or タヌキ) is the common Japanese name for the Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus). They have been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded.

Tanuki is often somewhat mistakenly translated as raccoon or badger into English, animals which are similar to tanuki in appearance, but actually belong to different Carnivora families.

The Japanese raccoon dog, also known as tanuki (狸 or タヌキ) in Japanese, is conventionally considered as two subspecies of the raccoon dog, hondo-tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), and ezo-tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides albus). Their common Japanese name is often mistakenly translated into English as "badger" or "raccoon". Despite these mistranslations, the tanuki is not related to raccoons or badgers; the "raccoon-dog" is part of the evolutionary family that includes foxes, wolves, and dogs.

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Last updated: 04/09/11 5:02 PM by jedi1357
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