Until Twitter user @chibi_tori‘s pet tanuki, Tanu, went viral very recently, the Japanese racoon-dog was best-known for its use as a costume for Mario in Super Mario Bros 3. Tanuki are also very prominent in Japanese folklore where they are both mischievous and jolly, gullible and absent-minded masters of disguise. Sometimes they even have supernatural powers, like the ability to shapeshift or possess humans.  In reality, Tanuki are wild animals, closely related to the fox as well as the dog. In recent years they’ve moved into urban areas and tanuki have gotten quite sick. They aren’t recommended as pets. So @chibi_tori ‘s experience raising Tanu since last summer when he found the tanuki is a success story. The little fluff balls are about two-feet long. They do not bark, making sounds similar to foxes, much higher-pitched than the whines of cats or dogs. In the wild, they also live, quite like foxes, in burrows. @chibi_tori shows that the adorable Tanu’s favorite activities are close to our own: staying warm,

eating food,

sleeping,

and playing in the snow.

@chibi_tori also posts photos of other cuddly creatures.

But mostly, it’s pictures of Tanu.

 

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