Thursday, March 23, 2023
HomeHealthWhat Are Raccoon Canines? - The New York Instances

What Are Raccoon Canines? – The New York Instances

On Thursday, scientists unveiled new information on the potential 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 at the very least sometimes 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 constructive for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The brand new information revealed that a few of these identical swabs additionally contained substantial genetic materials from raccoon canines.

The findings didn’t show that raccoon canines have been contaminated with the virus or that that they had handed it on to people. However they’re according to 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 canines are usually not shut relations of raccoons. They’re members of the canid household, a gaggle that additionally consists of home canines, and are most intently associated to foxes.

Raccoon canines 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 identified to hibernate and are monogamous, typically dwelling in pairs.

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

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

Raccoon canines 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 keeping 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 at the very least as late as November 2019, researchers have reported.

Not essentially. Laboratory experiments have proven that raccoon canines are vulnerable 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 canines on the market have been contaminated, they could have been an intermediate host, choosing up the virus from bats or one other species.

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

An analogous state of affairs might have unfolded 20 years in the past, after the emergence of SARS, which can also be brought on by a coronavirus. In 2003, scientists discovered proof of contaminated palm civets and raccoon canines at a dwell animal market in Shenzen, China. However subsequent analysis finally pointed to bats because the pure reservoir for the virus that causes SARS; raccoon canines gave the impression to be intermediate hosts.

It’s most likely not a good suggestion, as tempting because it is likely to be. Covid-19 apart, the animals are identified to be vectors for different ailments, together with rabies. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends in opposition to conserving raccoon canines as pets.



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