Animals have the ability to surprise us when we least expect it. Even when we think we know our pets better than they know themselves, they reveal something that makes us take pause. One woman in Japan learned this firsthand!
When she found a dog that had been abandoned outside of her home, she felt heartbroken for the little guy. But instead of bringing him to a local animal shelter, she decided to adopt him herself. However, it didn’t take long for her to realize her new pet was hiding a shocking secret…
One day, Twitter user chibi_tori made a startling discovery outside her home in Japan: there was an abandoned dog rustling through the bushes! Rather than take him to a shelter, she took him in. However, her new pup was not exactly what he seemed…
Chibi_tori was thrilled to bring her new furry friend into her life. He was absolutely adorable and quite friendly, which was a characteristic you don’t often find in stray animals.
Although chibi_tori was excited to show her friends and family her new pet, she couldn’t help but wonder why he looked so different from other dogs. Through a little research, she soon realized the surprising truth about him…
As it turned out, he looked so different because he wasn’t actually a dog to begin with! He was a creature known as a tanuki. Tanukis are difficult animals to categorize, but because of their appearance, their name translates roughly to “raccoon dog.”
So this was why chibi_tori’s new furry pal–whom she named Tanu—looked so much like a raccoon in his face, even though his body resembled that of a dog! Still, she loved the fact she’d rescued a truly unique animal, and he didn’t mind one bit, either.
Most tanukis closely resemble the ancestral form of dogs. Unlike the domesticated canines many people keep as pets today, tanukis are actually highly skilled when it comes to climbing trees.
Tanukis are also a prominent feature in a lot of Japanese folklore. For hundreds of years, these animals were known for being mischievous and jolly. They also tended to exhibit a gullible side.
However, even though tanukis are known for being mischievous, Tanu was well-behaved and he adjusted quite comfortably to his new surroundings. Although, he was incredibly curious about everything in his new home…
Tanukis’ temperaments are similar to foxes, and generally, it isn’t advised to keep them as pets. While owning them isn’t exactly illegal, they might be more trouble than they’re worth: they’ll steal small objects from around your home, and they can be territorial and aggressive.
Tanu, however, never appeared to have any of those personality issues. His owner was lucky the tanuki she found seemed to have a calm, friendly, and affectionate demeanor. Just look at those adorable puppy-dog—er, raccoon-dog—eyes!
Tanu was extremely lucky that he wasn’t spotted by someone with malicious intentions. Unfortunately, many of his kind are killed every year for their fur, and the pelts are sold to retailers all over the world to use in clothing.
Chibi_tori learned that tanukis usually hibernate during the winter months. Every time the cold weather rolled around, Tanu would curl up on a blanket and snooze for most of the day.
And boy, would he snooze! Sometimes he would lie on his stomach, while other times, he’d lie on his back without a care in the world. He’d sleep like this in order to conserve his energy.
When Tanu wasn’t sleeping, he loved to play with whatever he could get his furry little paws on. Luckily, chibi_tori supplied him with an abundance of toys so he could always stay preoccupied when he was home.
Tanu had an insatiable appetite, too. No matter what chibi_tori placed into his bowl every morning, he’d happily gobble it right up. She tried to provide him with a balanced mixture of protein and vegetables.
After every big meal, chibi_tori usually found Tanu passed out on a soft surface somewhere nearby. However, it was only a matter of time before he opened his eyes, batteries thoroughly recharged, and wanted to start playing again!
Even though Tanu made his bed wherever he pleased, he had a particular interest in a cozy little area right in front of chibi_tori’s space heater. It only took a few minutes in the warmth before he was off to dreamland!
Interestingly, tanukis don’t bark, unlike domesticated breeds of dogs. Instead, they let out a high-pitched whine whenever they get excited or startled. This meant that, sometimes, the noise level in chibi_tori’s home was pretty high!
Thankfully, Tanu got plenty of chances to go outdoors. His owner actually used a leash to walk him—just like a regular dog! He loved to rummage around the bushes and sniff all the vegetation. Even though he loved his new home, he was still very much a wild animal.
Not a day went by where chibi_tori regretted bringing Tanu into her life. He might not have been a conventional pet, but at least there was never a dull moment when he was around!
What a strange species! Either way, Tanu seems like he’d be a great addition to any loving pet owner’s home.
Share this adorable tanuki’s story with your friends below!