Nyctereutes procyonoides | Raccoon dog



Conservation status

Least concern

Legal status

Regulated invasive species of Union concern under the European Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species [1143/2014].


Invasive species - risk of High Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Escape from Confinement

Introduction pathways subclass - 1

Botanical garden/zoo/aquaria, Pet/aquarium species

Introduction pathways - 2

Release in Nature

Introduction pathways subclass - 2

Other intentional release

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed


Species Biology


A fox-sized omnivorous mammal with a black facial mask resembling that of a racoon. Short legs and tail (Kauhala & Winter, 2006). Face is thickly furred at the sides giving it a broad appearance. Coat is long and generally a mix of buff, grey and black though colour variation is seen. Doesn't bark, rather whines or whimpers in submissive interactions and growls when threatened (Ward & Wurster-Hill, 1990).


This omnivore is reported to behave more as a scavenger or gatherer than active predator (Ward & Wurster-Hill, 1990). They eat a wide range of items including roots, stems, leaves, bulbs, roots, nuts, berries, seeds, molluscs, arthropods (Ward & Wurster-Hill, 1990), also birds, amphibians, small mammals (Sugoto, 2016), insects and carrion (Baiwy et al., 2013). Their effect on native species and in particular species of conservation concern is unclear. Most of concern, is their impact as a vector of diseases and parasites that can affect humans, livestock and wildlife including rabies, Trichinella spp. (Sugoto, 2016) as well as sarcoptic mange (Kauhala & Winter, 2006). May compete with native species such as the Badger (Meles meles) and the Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) for den sites. Tolerates both high and low temperatures. Goes into a period of pseudo-hibernation in the winter and will emerge on warm winter days to forage for food. Estimated to live for 5-7 years in the wild (Ward & Wurster-Hill, 1990).


Males and females reach sexual maturity at 9-11 months of age (Ward and Wurster-Hill, 1990; Kauhala & Winter, 2006). Breeding season peak is in March. Gestation is 9 weeks. Litter size averages 7-9 and the cubs are born April – June. Animals begin to disperse at 5 months of age (Kauhala & Winter, 2006; Sugoto, 2016). Like other canid spp. a decrease in population density results in an increase in litter size (Kauhala & Winter, 2006).

Pathway and vector description

Most likely pathway to Ireland is through escapes from zoos or private collections and through the pet trade. Once established, this species readily spreads over long distances (Kauhala, 1996; Kauhala & Kowalczyk, 2011; Baiwy et al., 2013). It is not territorial and follows seasonal food abundance (Kauhala & Kowlaczyk, 2011). Within 50 years, this species has spread to >1.4million square kilometers in Europe (Baiwy et al., 2013).

Mechanism of impact

Predation, Disease transmission

Management approach

There is currently an EU wide ban on the sale of this species and personal and zoo ownership is being phased out (European Commission, 2017).

Early detection of this species is difficult as it is so elusive (Baiwy et al., 2013). There are few possible predators in Ireland except the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) and large birds of prey. Sensitive areas may be fenced using a 1m fence (Baiwy et al., 2013). Control is commonly by hunting, sometimes with dogs, live trapping and snaring (Sugoto, 2016). Baiwy et al. (2013) consider the use of a combination of trapping and the use of sterile, radio-collared animals ('Judas animals') used as lures to enable detection and capture of others.

Broad environment


Habitat description

Adapts to most habitats including scrubland, hedges, woodland & forest with moist dense undergrowth (Kauhala, 1996), also riverbanks, gardens, coastal areas, wetlands, heathland. Prefers to be near a water source (Ward & Wurster-Hill, 1990).

Species group


Native region

Temperate Asia, Tropical Asia

Similar species

Badger (Meles meles). The badger's snout is more elongated and the head is wedge shaped. The badger is broader across the back and has a shorter tail.


World distribution(GBIF)

Europe: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, NW Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia & Montenegro (Ward & Wurster-Hill, 1990).

Native distribution

China, Japan, Korea, Siberia, Vietnam (Ward & Wurster-Hill, 1990).

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

Report any sighting to the National Biodiversity Centre.

Do not purchase or keep as a pet.

Do not release in the wild.

Further information

Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe (DAISIE) project list this as one of the 100 Worst Invaders in Europe.



Baiwy, E., Schockert, V. & Branquart, E. (2013) Risk analysis of the raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides, Risk analysis report of non-native organisms in Belgium. Cellule interdépartementale sur les Espèces invasives (CiEi), DGO3, SPW / Editions, 37 pages. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

European Commission. (2017). Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern. European Union, Luxembourg.

Kauhala, K (1996) Habitat use of Raccoon dogs, Nyctereutes procyonoides in southern Finland. Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde 61 pp 269 – 275. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Kauhala, K; Kaunisto, M & Hell, E (1993). Diet of the Raccoon dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides, in Finland.  Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde 58 pp 129-136. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Kauhala, K. & Kowalczyk, R. (2011) Invasion of the raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides in Europe: History of colonization, features behind its success, and threats to native fauna. Current Zoology 57(5): 584-598. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Kauhala, K & Winter, M (2006). Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe Factsheet – Nyctereutes procyonoides. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Kowalczyk, R. (2014): NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet – Nyctereutes procyonoides. – From: Online Database of the European Network on Invasive Alien Species – NOBANIS Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Sugoto, R. (2016). GB Non-native Organism Risk Assessment for Racoon Dog - Nyctereutes procyonoides. Site accessed 4 October 2017.

Van Den Berge, K. & Gouwy, J. (2009) Exotic carnivores in Flanders area expansion or repeated new input? Proceedings of the Science facing Aliens Conference, Brussels, 11th May 2009. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Ward O. and Wurster-Hill D. 1990. Mammalian Species: Nyctereutes procyonoides. The American Society of Mammalogists, No. 358: 1-5. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Weber, J-M ;Fresard, D ;Capt, S ;Noel, C (2004) First records of raccoon dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides (Gray, 1834), in Switzerland. Revue Suisse de Zoologie, 111 (4), pp 935- 940. Site accessed 5 October 2017.

Animal Diversity Web

CABI Datasheet

DAISIE Factsheet