Is a tanuki a badger?

A tanuki
Photo credit: rumpleteaser (real name unknown) / CC licence
A badger

No. Tanuki (タヌキ) (scientific name Nyctereutes procyonoides) may be translated into English as a 'raccoon dog', but it is not a kind of badger or a raccoon. In Japanese, a badger is anaguma (アナグマ) and raccoon is araiguma (アライグマ). Biologically, the Tanuki is closer to the dog and the fox than the raccoon or the badger.

The tanuki is associated with eating and drinking, and statues of an overweight tanuki holding a sake bottle may be seen outside restaurants. In mythology, the tanuki is said to be able to change its shape in order to trick people.

Tanukis are common in mountainous regions, hence road signs to warn drivers of tanukis crossing the road.

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