An Animal We Should NOT Have Considered as a Pet
We started to receive raccoon sightings around the year 2001. The
raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a mid sized carnivore originating in Central and North
America. Raccoons were imported to Japan as pets, but they are wild
animals and not easily tamed. Many of these pet raccoons escaped from
their cages using their powerful and dexterous arms and hands. It
is also suspected that many owners could not continue keeping them
and released them into the wild deliberately. In this way, feral raccoons
are spreading all over Japan. There have been reports of crops being
damaged in Hokkaido and houses being broken into and soiled with raccoon
droppings in Kanagawa prefecture. These are serious problems.
What Kind of Animal is the Raccoon?
They have a striped tail
A little grayer than the Japanese raccoon dog
Adept at climbing trees
| Front foot
|| Striped tail
Problems Caused by Raccoons in Karuizawa
1. Disturbing the Ecosystem
Raccoons eat anything. It is possible that they could bring some species
of birds and small mammals close to extinction. Mid sized, wild animals
native to Japan that have a similar niche such as the raccoon dog,
fox, badger, and marten will also suffer because raccoons compete
with them. We receive more reports of sightings and have captured
more raccoons on the east side of the town than the west. We can think
of two reasons for this. One is that feral raccoons in the Kanto area
(Tokyo, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa prefectures)
have expanded into Karuizawa, and another is that raccoons, once kept
as pets in Karuizawa have escaped and are reproducing. Since we started
the program two years ago, 20 raccoons have been captured including
several newborns. There are probably ten times this number inhabiting
the Karuizawa area and it is certain that many other species are suffering
under this pressure.
2. Infectious Diseases
Raccoons can possibly carry infectious diseases like raccoon
roundworm infection and rabies, all diseases that can be passed on
to humans and pets. We are checking each raccoon we capture by sending
samples to universities to check for these diseases. So far, we have
not uncovered any terminal diseases in the Karuizawa area. We will
continue checking for these diseases.
|Feces in the attic of a second house
3. House Damage
They enter wooden houses from under the floors. They hide in attics,
sometimes giving birth to their young and remaining there for the
winter. We are receiving more and more reports of damaged walls
and ceilings soiled with raccoon droppings.
Problems on introduced species occur when people do not think twice
about keeping wild animals as pets. They are careless and the animals
escape giving no consideration as to the effects the animals may have
on the ecosystem. We give presentations to the public on these matters
in an attempt to improve the situation.
Adoption of Captured Raccoons, Foster Owner Wanted
NPO picchio is trying to remove raccoons from the ecosystem, but
killing them is not our intention. We are looking for responsible
individuals and organizations willing to adopt captured raccoons.
We place captured raccoons into the care of these individuals and
organizations after explaining thoroughly to them what kind of animal
they are and what it takes to keep them. To date, four raccoons have
been saved having being adopted by zoos.
|A raccoon captured in Karuizawa
Please Contact Us if You
Are willing to adopt a raccoon
See a raccoon in Karuizawa
Incur damages caused by raccoons in Karuizawa
See other feral introduced species in Karuizawa