The internet has fallen in love with Tanu the Tanuki, a creature that I didn't even know existed before reading about it this morning (apparently, the spell-check on my computer doesn't know about them either, as it keeps insisting that I have the spelling wrong).

So, what's a Tanuki?

According to a report from CNN:

This member of the canid family, which includes dogs and wolves, is also called a raccoon dog. Although they aren't raccoons, they have similar markings and curved claws that allow them to climb, according to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Experts don't recommend adopting raccoon dogs, which are found mostly in East Asia and Western and Northern Europe. They weigh around 8 to 13 pounds and reach about 19 to 26 inches in length.

They like to eat frogs, lizards, rodents, birds, seeds, fruits and sea creatures (if they live near the ocean), although Tanu seems to eat whatever his solicitous owner puts in front of him.

Tanuki are the only canids to go into torpor during cold winters, a state that is similar to hibernation, but they will wake up and look for food if the weather gets warm.

Although most U.S. zoos don't have tanuki, animal lovers who want to see these adorable creatures in person can visit them at Zoo Atlanta.

Here's another tanuki having a little snack:


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