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HomeHealthWhat Are Raccoon Canines? - The New York Occasions

What Are Raccoon Canines? – The New York Occasions

On Thursday, scientists unveiled new knowledge on the doable origins of the Covid-19 pandemic — and put an odd, squat creature squarely within the highlight.

Meet the raccoon canine; it earns its title from its black facial markings, which give the animal a masked look and a more-than-passing resemblance to these notorious raiders of city trash cans.

The animals have been a minimum of often offered on the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, the place many virologists suspect that the Covid-19 pandemic might have began.

Scientists had beforehand introduced that swabs from the market had examined optimistic for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The brand new knowledge revealed that a few of these identical swabs additionally contained substantial genetic materials from raccoon canine.

The findings didn’t show that raccoon canine have been contaminated with the virus or that they’d handed it on to people. However they’re per the chance that wild animals on the market might have set off the Covid-19 pandemic.

Right here’s what to know concerning the animal within the information.

Regardless of their title, raccoon canine are usually not shut kinfolk of raccoons. They’re members of the canid household, a bunch that additionally contains home canine, and are most carefully associated to foxes.

Raccoon canine are omnivores, eating on meals sources like rodents and berries. Though they seem svelte in the summertime, they pack on the kilos for winter, when their fur additionally turns into thicker. They’re the one canid species recognized to hibernate and are monogamous, usually residing in pairs.

Raccoon canine are native to East Asia, together with components of China, Korea and Japan, the place they’re generally known as tanuki.

They’ve additionally change into widespread in components of Europe, the place they’re thought-about an invasive species. They’re generally hunted as pests.

Raccoon canine have lengthy been farmed for his or her fur. China is a number one producer of raccoon canine pelts; in 2014, the nation produced greater than 14 million pelts, 100 occasions as many as Europe, in accordance with one report.

They’re additionally offered for his or her meat in dwell animal markets. They have been offered on the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market a minimum of as late as November 2019, researchers have reported.

Not essentially. Laboratory experiments have proven that raccoon canine are inclined to, and able to transmitting, the novel coronavirus. However that doesn’t imply that they’re the pure reservoir for the virus. Even when raccoon canine on the market have been contaminated, they could have been an intermediate host, choosing up the virus from bats or one other species.

Raccoon canine and bats have been each frequent on and round a number of the farms that provided the market, scientists have famous.

An identical situation might have unfolded twenty years in the past, after the emergence of SARS, which can also be attributable to a coronavirus. In 2003, scientists discovered proof of contaminated palm civets and raccoon canine at a dwell animal market in Shenzen, China. However subsequent analysis in the end pointed to bats because the pure reservoir for the virus that causes SARS; raccoon canine seemed to be intermediate hosts.

It’s most likely not a good suggestion, as tempting because it may be. Covid-19 apart, the animals are recognized to be vectors for different ailments, together with rabies. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends towards preserving raccoon canine as pets.



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