We can’t get enough of Tanu the tanuki, a species that’s also called a raccoon dog.
This member of the canid family, which includes dogs and wolves, found Internet fame when he was rescued by a Japanese man.
Tanuki have spiritual and artistic significance in Japan and are reputed to have have magical shape-shifting powers — in the spiritual tradition, not at zoos. A pack of such dogs appear in the animated movie “Pom Poko,” from Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
Experts don’t recommend adopting raccoon dogs, which are found mostly in East Asia and Western and Northern Europe. Although they aren’t raccoons, they have similar markings and curved claws that allow them to climb, according to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
They weigh around 8 to 13 pounds and reach about 19 to 26 inches in length.
They like to eat frogs, lizards, rodents, birds, seeds, fruits and sea creatures (if they live near the ocean), although Tanu seems to eat whatever his solicitous owner puts in front of him. And this lucky dog has a heater just the right size for him.
Tanuki are the only canids to go into torpor during cold winters, a state that is similar to hibernation, but they will wake up and look for food if the weather gets warm.
Although most U.S. zoos don’t have tanuki, animal lovers who want to see these adorable creatures in person can visit them at Zoo Atlanta.