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Temporal range: 5.332–0 Ma Late Miocene - recent
Common and Japanese raccoon dog
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Caninae
Genus: Nyctereutes
Temminck, 1838[2]
Type species
Canis viverrinus

N. procyonoides
N. viverrinus

Nyctereutes (Greek: nyx, nykt- "night" + ereutēs "wanderer") is a genus of canid which includes only two extant species, both known as raccoon dogs: the common raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and the Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes viverrinus).[1] Nyctereutes first entered the fossil record 5.5 million years ago (Mya) in northern China. It was one of the earliest canines to arrive in the Old World. All but two species became extinct before the end of the Pleistocene. A study suggests that the evolution of Nyctereutes was influenced by environmental and climatic changes, such as the expansion and contraction of forests and the fluctuations of temperature and precipitation.[3]

Nyctereutes megamastoides fossil skull


They are typically recognized by their short snouts, round crania and the shaping of their molars, specifically the ratio between M1 and M2. Nyctereutes is considered mainly an opportunistic carnivore, feeding on small mammals, fish, birds, and insects, alongside occasional plants, specifically roots. Their diet is mostly influenced by environmental factors.[3] Japanese raccoon dogs are considered distinct from the mainland species because of the larger skull size found in Russian and Hokkaido raccoon dogs.[4]


Extant species[edit]

Genus NyctereutesTemminck, 1838 – two species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Common raccoon dog

Nyctereutes procyonoides
(Gray, 1834)

Four subspecies
  • N. p. procyonoides
  • N. p. koreensis
  • N. p. orestes
  • N. p. ussuriensis
Mongolia, Russian Far East, China, Korea, Vietnam; introduced to Europe
Map of range



Japanese raccoon dog

Nyctereutes viverrinus
(Temminck, 1838)
Japan Size:



Fossil species[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Genus Nyctereutes". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Temminck, C.J. (1838). "Over de Kennis en de Verbreiding der Zoogdieren van Japan" [On the Knowledge and Dissemination of the Mammals of Japan]. Tijdschrift voor Natuurlijke Geschiedenis en Physiologie (in Dutch). 5: 273–293.
  3. ^ a b c d Farjand, Arya; Zhang, Zhao-Qun; Liu, Wen-Hui; Jiao, Chen-Hui; Wang, Li-Hua (June 2021). "The evolution of Nyctereutes (Carnivora: Canidae) in the Nihewan Basin, Hebei, northern China". Palaeoworld. 30 (2): 373–381. doi:10.1016/j.palwor.2020.07.002. S2CID 225565692.
  4. ^ Kim, Sang-In; Oshida, Tatsuo; Lee, Hang; Min, Mi-Sook; Kimura, Junpei (2015). "Evolutionary and Biogeographical implications of variation in skull morphology of raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides, Mammalia: Carnivora)". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 116 (1): 856–872. doi:10.1111/bij.12629.
  5. ^ Paleobiology Database: ''Nyctereutes abdeslami basic info.
  6. ^ Geraads, D.; Alemseged, Z.; et al. (2010). "Nyctereutes lockwoodi, n. sp., a new canid (Carnivora: Mammalia) from the middle Pliocene of Dikika, Lower Awash, Ethiopia". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 30 (2): 981–987. doi:10.1080/02724631003758326. S2CID 83954055.
  7. ^ Paleobiology Database: ''Nyctereutes sinensis basic info.

Further reading[edit]