The common raccoon dog has long been an animal that lived in peace, with many Brits unaware of the species.

In recent times, some have said that they've spotted sightings of the non-native species, including a sighting in May 2024 by a father and daughter in Andover.

The common raccoon dog is known as an invasive species, originating from Japan from, the name of tanuki.

While not common to the UK, the Asian species are common to the Russia Far East, China, Japan, Mongolia, Korea and Northern Vietnam.

What is a common raccoon dog? 

Also known as mangut, tanuki or neoguri, the raccoon dog is neither dog nor raccoon but is linked to the Canidae family, according to RSPCA.

Ipswich Star: Common Raccoon Dogs.Common Raccoon Dogs. (Image: Getty)

They are said to have the closest comparison to foxes and badgers, both being nocturnal and living in wooded habitats.

The animals first arrived in Europe as part of the fur trade, their soft look saw them become popular as exotic pets.

However, since 2019 it has been illegal for anyone to sell raccoon dogs as the species is highly invasive, as the RSPCA shares: 

"They're now widespread in some European countries, having been accidentally released or escaped."

The wild animals are small but can be dangerous with sharp teeth and claws that could harm a person, plus the charity adds that "they're extremely smelly" as they use scent to communicate.

Ipswich Star: A common raccoon dog and a raccoon.A common raccoon dog and a raccoon. (Image: Getty)

What is the difference between a raccoon dog and a raccoon?

While similar in name, the raccoon dog and raccoon are vastly different, with the raccoon originating from North America and belonging to the raccoon family. 

The raccoon dog is from East Asia and belongs to the Canidae family.

The pair's lifespan are also different, with a raccoon having an average lifespan of two to three years in the wild or 20 in captivity.

While the raccoon dog can survive 6 to 7 years in the wild and 11 years in captivity.

They do have some similarities, both like to climb trees, swim, and eat plants and animals.