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Sci-Tech

Weird-but-real raccoon dogs escape, menace the English countryside

They aren't the product of a post-apocalyptic mutation, but rather an ill-advised pet choice on the run.

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Raccoon dogs on the loose have been spotted in the English countryside.

Courtesy of Nottinghamshire Police

Raccoon dogs are on the loose in the UK. While it may sound like the plot of a comic book set amidst a world filled with nuclear fallout, the animals are very real and apparently freaking people out in the northern English countryside.

The exotic pets, which are members of the dog family from Asia, escaped from an enclosure in Clarborough Tuesday and began terrorizing neighbors. One of the animals was photographed at a nearby farm and allegedly attacked a goat. 

Nottinghamshire Police said they're not domesticated and "potentially dangerous if approached."

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A raccoon dog forages in a forest, showing its camouflage colors.

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According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, raccoon dogs hail from eastern Asia but have been imported to Europe although the organization strongly discourages keeping them as pets. 

"Raccoon dogs are wild animals," reads the RSPCA information page on the species. "They need a great deal of space and their needs simply cannot be met in a typical household. They're also extremely smelly, as they use scent to communicate with one another."

Video game fans of a certain age may also recognize the raccoon dog by its Japanese name, Tanuki. The coveted "Tanooki suit" in Super Mario Brothers 3 conveyed the power of gliding flight and a goofy raccoon tail to anyone who acquired the power-up. 

However, to the best of my recollection, it did not come with the ability to communicate via stank.