Tanukis—Raccoon Dog Spirits
Raccoons are a big problem on my farm. They look cute and furry in pictures, but they are ruthless killers. To protect my exotic chickens, at night I put them into cages with ½” very tough rabbit wire. That was fine for a while, but the raccoons figured out a way to kill them anyway. First they frighten the chickens by banging on the cage and growling. This sends the chicken off their roosts, running—well, like chickens without heads. Then the raccoon will squeeze a stealthy hand through the wire and wait until they can grab a chicken’s foot. When that is accomplished, they simply keep pulling and eating so that the poor chicken is eaten slowly and agonizingly. For this reason, I hate raccoons. At first I tried humane trapping and dispersing a mile away, but they always came back. Now I double cage the poor birds…but I digress…
I wanted to talk about Japanese Raccoon Dogs, better known as Tanukis. These creatures resemble the real Raccoon dog very little. Some people say they look more like badgers. The mythical Tanuki is roguish and mischievous. A tanuki can disguise itself as a Buddhist monk, begging for offerings, which it may also steal outright. In my Fox Sorcery series, it is depicted as a musical creature who will use either its inflated abdomen or scrotum as a percussion instrument. It is depicted in popular Japanese myth this way. One can buy images of lewd looking tanukis playing with their scrotums in Japan. The little guy above has a big sack indeed!