Raccoon dog

An invasive alien species

Raccoon dog © Eero Haapanen

The raccoon dog’s (Nyctereutes procyonoides) straggly, multicoloured, round appearance is reminiscent of the racoon. It almost looks like a cross between a fox and a raccoon. One of southern Finland’s most prevalent predators, the raccoon dog is actually an omnivore that also eats carrion, apples and rowan berries. Raccoon dogs can be found in all of Helsinki’s large green spaces.

A single raccoon dog litter can include over ten pups. The majority of the pups die during their first winter, as a result of traffic, for example. The raccoon dog is also hunted in Helsinki due to being considered an invasive alien species. It is particularly harmful to the eggs and chicks of birds that nest on the ground, especially in bird wetlands.

The raccoon dog is a canid indigenous to China, Japan and the Korean peninsula. During the Soviet era, it was introduced to Russia as a fur farming animal near the River Svir, among other places. From there it spread to Finland only 50 years ago.