Tanuki (=?UTF-8?Q?=E7=8B=B8?= or タヌキ, Tanuki)

Tanuki (狸 or タヌキ, Tanuki) is the Japanese word for the Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonides viverrinus). They have been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded.

Tanuki is often mistakenly translated as raccoon or badger.

Statues of tanuki can be found outside many Japanese temples and restaurants, especially noodle shops. These statues often wear big, cone-shaped hats and carry bottles of sake in one hand, and a promissory note or empty purse in the other hand. Tanuki statues always have large bellies. The statues also usually show humorously large testicles, typically hanging down to the floor or ground, although this feature is sometimes omitted in contemporary sculpture.[citation needed]

Organizers chose November 8 as the date for the Tanuki holiday because the emperor made his famous visit in November and because the tanuki has eight special traits that bring good fortune. The eight traits are: (1) a bamboo hat that protects against trouble, (2) big eyes to perceive the environment and help make good decisions, (3) a sake bottle that represents virtue, (4) a big tail that provides steadiness and strength until success is achieved, (5) over-sized testicles that symbolize financial luck, (6) a promissory note that represents trust, (7) a big belly that symbolizes bold decisiveness, and (8) a friendly smile.

The comical image of the tanuki is thought to have developed during the Kamakura era. The actual wild tanuki has unusually large testicles, a feature that has inspired humorous exaggeration in artistic depictions of the creature. Tanuki may be shown with their testicles flung over their backs like travellers' packs, or using them as drums. As tanuki are also typically depicted as having large bellies, they may be depicted as drumming on their bellies instead of their testicles -- particularly in contemporary art.

A common schoolyard song in Japan (the tune of which can be heard in the arcade game Ponpoko and a variation of which is sung in the Studio Ghibli film Pom Poko) makes explicit reference to the tanuki's anatomy:

Tan Tan Tanuki no kintama wa,
Kaze mo nai no ni,
Bura bura

Roughly translated, this means "Tan-tan-tanuki's testicles, there isn't even any wind but still go swing-swing-swing."[1] It then proceeds to continue for several verses, with many regional variations. It is sung to the melody of an American Baptist hymn called "Shall We Gather At The River?".[2]
Tanuki statues at a temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan.

During the Kamakura and Muromachi eras, some stories began to include more sinister tanuki. The Otogizoshi story of "Kachi-kachi Yama" features a tanuki that clubs an old lady to death and serves her to her unknowing husband as "old lady soup," an ironic twist on the folkloric recipe known as "tanuki soup." Other stories report tanuki as being harmless and productive members of society. Several shrines have stories of past priests who were tanuki in disguise. Shapeshifting tanuki are sometimes believed to be tsukumogami, a transformation of the souls of household goods that were used for one hundred years or more.

A popular tale known as Bunbuku chagama is about a tanuki who fooled a monk by transforming into a tea-kettle. Another is about a tanuki who tricked a hunter by disguising his arms as tree boughs, until he spread both arms at the same time and fell off the tree. Tanuki are said to cheat merchants with leaves they have magically disguised as paper money. Some stories describe tanuki as using leaves as part of their own shape-shifting magic.

In metalworking, tanuki skins were often used for thinning gold. As a result, tanuki became associated with precious metals and metalwork. Small tanuki statues were marketed as front yard decoration and good luck charm for bringing in prosperity. Also, this is why tanuki is described as having large kintama (金玉 lit. gold ball, means a testicle in Japanese slang).

While tanuki are prominent in Japanese folklore and proverbs, they were not always distinguished from other animals. In local dialects, tanuki and mujina (狢, kyujitai: 貉) can refer to raccoon dogs or badgers. An animal known as tanuki in one region may be known as mujina in another region. In modern Tokyo standard dialect, tanuki refers to raccoon dogs and anaguma refers to badgers. Regional dishes known as tanuki-jiru ("tanuki soup") may contain either raccoon dog or badger, although the taste of the latter is often preferred.

Originally, the kanji for tanuki, 狸 (kyujitai: 貍) was used to refer to other mid-sized mammals, mostly wild cats.[citation needed] Since wild cats live only in limited regions of Japan (e.g. Iriomote, Okinawa), it is believed that the characters began to be used to mean "tanuki" instead starting around the Japanese feudal era. This shift in meaning, along with the rarity of the raccoon dog outside Japan, may have contributed to confusion over the proper translation of "tanuki" into other languages.

In Japanese slang, tanuki gao ("tanuki face") can refer to a face that looks like that of the animal, or a person's facial expression of feigned ignorance[3]. Kitsune gao ("fox face") refers to women with narrow faces, close-set eyes, thin eyebrows and high cheekbones. The word "tanuki" is sometimes used as a Japanese code. It is a play on ta-nuki. Because "nuki" means "take out", the reader must remove the "ta"'s from the message.

Tanuki appear in numerous anime, manga and video games.

All the main characters in Pom Poko are shape-shifting tanuki who are trying to save their habitat from urban development. Japanese legends about tanuki and kitsune shapeshifting feature heavily throughout the movie. The tanuki were mis-translated in the film as raccoons.

Hachi, from the anime series InuYasha, takes the form of a tanuki, though he is introduced as a badger in the English dub.

Urusei Yatsura, which was written by the same author as InuYasha (Rumiko Takahashi) also features a tanuki in comical situations.

In Naruto, the one-tailed demon Shukaku that is sealed inside the body of Gaara is based on the Tanuki.

The tanuki is well represented in video games as one of Mario's power-up suits in Super Mario Bros. 3, a pair of characters in Super Mario Sunshine, the action stage identifier from The Legend of the Mystical Ninja and Rocky from Pocky & Rocky.

Tom Nook, the shopkeeper in Animal Crossing, is a tanuki (although translated as a raccoon) and the furniture and other objects that he buys and sells transform into leaves when stored in a player's inventory.

A tanuki is a main character in Tom Robbins' novel Villa Incognito.

The Masked Tanuki is an episode of the American animated television show Kappa Mikey and also the name of the superhero identity of one of the show's characters.

Tanuki also appear in the 2005 Seijun Suzuki film Princess Raccoon (aka Operetta tanuki goten).

In Ever17 Visual Novel by KID Komachi Tsugumi wears a mascot tanuki suit and beats the protagonist pretty hard when he tries to seek the help from her, when he gets lost in amusement park. Later, Yuubiseiharukana explains that isn't a 'tanuki', but 'lemur'.

In the manga/anime Shaman King, one of Tamao Tamamura's guardian ghosts is a Tanuki (Ponchi).

In the videogame Okami, Tanuki statues can be seen in front of various shops. - Discount Domain Registration - Make Money Now! - Make a Friend in Japan! - My Blog, Photos, and Videos


Japanese Marten

By Bill Barthen
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Mustelidae
Subfamily: Mustelinae
Genus: Martes
Species: Martes melampus
Geographic Range

Martes melampus melampus is found on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu in Japan. M. melampus melampus was introduced from Honshu to Sado and Hokkaido Islands in Japan by 1949 to increase fur products (Hosoda et al. 1999). Its distribution is southwestern Hokkaido, specifically the low altitude areas of the Oshima Peninsula and Ishikari, but research is needed to confirm its distribution (Murakami and Ohtaishi 2000). Martes melampus tsuensis is sparsely distributed on the Tsushima Islands of Japan (Buskirk 1994). Martes melampus coreensis is found on the mainland of South Korea into North Korea. (Anderson, 1970; Buskirk et al., 1994; Hosoda et al., 1999; Murakami and Ohtaishi, 2000)

Biogeographic Regions:
palearctic (introduced , native ).
1807 m (high)
(5926.96 ft)

Japanese martens are found along valleys, primarily in broad-leaved forests (dominated by Quercus serrata and Castanopsis cuspidata). This species will use conifer plantations and open fields (Tatara and Doi 1994). It will use dens in trees and ground burrows (Nowak 1999). Characteristics of the Tsushima Islands include: 88% forested, mean low January temperature of 4°C, mean high August temperature of 26°C, uncommon and light snowfall, and a low human population (Buskirk 1994). The habitat of this species is similar to that of Martes zibellina (Otsu 1972). (Buskirk et al., 1994; Nowak, 1999; Otsu, 1972; Tatara and Doi, 1994)

These animals are found in the following types of habitat:
temperate ; terrestrial .

Terrestrial Biomes:
taiga ; forest .
Physical Description
500 to 1700 g; avg. 250.50 g
(17.6 to 59.84 oz; avg. 8.82 oz)

470 to 545 mm; avg. 507.50 mm
(18.5 to 21.46 in; avg. 19.98 in)

The head and body length is 470 to 545 mm (Anderson 1970). The tail length is 170 to 223 mm. Age of martens is determined by tooth eruption and wear. Sexes are significantly different in size, with males being larger (Tatara and Doi 1994). Mass varies from 500 to 1,700 g for adults. Nine live-captured males averaged 1,563 g and 4 females averaged 1,011 g (Tatara and Doi 1994). Pelage coloration varies from yellowish brown to dark brown throughout with a white to cream-colored neck patch. (Anderson, 1970; Tatara and Doi, 1994)

Some key physical features:
endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry .

Sexual dimorphism: male larger.
Breeding interval
Japanese martens breed once yearly.

Breeding season
Breeding occurs in late March to mid-May.

Number of offspring
1 to 5; avg. 1.50

Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
1 to 2 years; avg. 1.50 years

Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
1 to 2 years; avg. 1.50 years

Information on mating behaviors of Japanese martens is unavailable.

Martes melampus reach sexual maturity between one and two years of age. They are seasonal breeders, mating from late March through Mid-May, and giving birth between mid-July and early August. Embryonic diapause probably occurs in M. melampus (Buskirk 1994). Japanese martens produce 1 to 5 offspring per litter, with a mean of 1.5. They are iteroparous. (Buskirk et al., 1994; Imaizumi, 1949; Kuroda, 1940; Macdonald, 1999)

Key reproductive features:
iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous ; delayed implantation .

Young are altricial, and are cared for by the mother. As in all mammals, the mother produces milk with which to feed her young. Japanese Marten kits are born deaf, blind, and furred (Macdonald 1999). Young martens can kill prey by 3 to 4 months and leave their mother shortly thereafter. (Imaizumi, 1949; Kuroda, 1940; Macdonald, 1999)

Parental investment:
altricial ; pre-fertilization (provisioning, protecting: female); pre-hatching/birth (provisioning: female, protecting: female); pre-weaning/fledging (provisioning: female, protecting: female); pre-independence (provisioning: female, protecting: female).

Information on lifespan in Japanese martens is unavailable.

Juveniles try to establish territories shortly after becoming sexually mature. Home range of male Japanese martens averaged 0.70 square km and females averaged 0.63 square km with less than 10% overlap between any 2 home ranges (Buskirk 1994). Relatively small home range sizes may depend on abundance and distribution of food within preferred habitat. Scats were found primarily in home range peripheries in a doughnut-shaped distribution. Scat placement confirms active maintenance of boundaries by scent marking, a common social behavior in mustelids (Tatara and Doi 1994). Martes melampus has been observed jumping up to 2 m from the ground into a tree (Yoshiyuki and Mikuriya 1974). (Buskirk et al., 1994; Tatara and Doi, 1994; Yoshiyuki and Mikuriya, 1974)

Key behaviors:
terricolous; nocturnal ; motile ; sedentary ; solitary ; territorial .
Food Habits

Scat analyses indicate that M. melampus is omnivorous. However, it may be characterized as an opportunistic generalist. It eats a highly diverse array of food through the year. Important foods are fruits and berries from spring to autumn, insects in summer and autumn, and small mammals and birds all year round. It likely competes with other carnivores for small mammals (Tatara and Doi 1994).

Foods eaten include plants (mostly berries and seeds): Diospyros kaki, Actinidia arguta, Rubus hirsutus, Elaeagnus pungens, E. umbellata, Vitis ficifolia, Ficus electa, Morus australis, Rhus spp., Stauntonia hexaphylla, and Camellia japonica, rabbits and other small mammals: Lepus brachyurus angustidens, Petaurista leucogenys niddonis, Clethrionomys rufocanus andersoni, Apodemus speciosus, Apodemus argenteus, Mus musculus, and Rattus, birds and their eggs: Phasianus soemmeringii scintillans, Phasianus colchicus karpowi, Turdus naumanni eunomus, and Emberiza cioides ciopsis, invertebrates: Coleoptera and Mantodea centipedes and spiders, Scolopendra subspinipes, frogs and their eggs: Rana tsushimensis, earthworms, fish, gastropods, and crustaceans: Ligia exotica and Sesarma haematocheir.

Japanese martens adapt their fruit and berry foraging to local plant phenology. In the presence of interspecific competitors or human disturbance, they change to alternative food resources, making them more adaptable than Mustela sibirica and Felis bengalensis, which are more prey specific (Tatara and Doi 1994). (Obara, 1970; Otsu, 1972; Tatara and Doi, 1994)

Primary Diet:
omnivore .

Animal Foods:
mammals; amphibians; fish; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans.

Plant Foods:
Known predators

* humans (Homo sapiens)
* domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)

Den selection is the most obvious adaptation to protection from predation. Martes melampus rests in tree and ground dens. Five adults were found killed by feral dogs and 38 killed by vehicle collisions between 1986 and 1989 (Tatara and Doi 1994). Humans also trap them. (Tatara and Doi, 1994)
Ecosystem Roles

Little is known about the ecology of the M. melampus (Buskirk 1994). It may be surmized from its predatory feeding habits, however, that populations of M. melampus affect local populations of small mammals and birds, thereby affecting seed dispersal, etc. (Buskirk et al., 1994)
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

These martens may consume insects that are beneficial to agriculture (Otsu 1972). (Otsu, 1972)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Martes melampus is trapped for fur from 1 December through 31 January (Nowak 1999) except on Hokkaido and the Tsushima Islands, where it is protected (Buskirk 1994). It is illegal to harvest females (Otsu 1972), a restriction that helps to preserve the population. Martes melampus predation of Lepus brachyurus is beneficial to the timber industry, because L. brachyurus browsing may destroy tree quality (Otsu 1972). (Buskirk et al., 1994; Nowak, 1999; Otsu, 1972)

Ways that people benefit from these animals:
body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population.
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: [link]:
Lower Risk - Least Concern.

US Federal List: [link]:
No special status.

CITES: [link]:
No special status.

Martes melampus is a species of concern due to pressure from human activities in recent years, which has brought drastic changes in the natural environment of Japan. It is decreasing in numbers due to excessive trapping for its fur and because of the harmful effects of agricultural insecticides. As a result, females are protected from trapping (Otsu 1972).

Martes melampus tsuensis was designated a vulnerable Natural Monument Species by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs in 1971 (Buskirk 1994), which supported its classification as vulnerable by the IUCN (Hilton-Taylor 2000). This subspecies is now legally protected on the Tsushima Islands (Schreiber et al. 1989). Although the Tsushima Islands are 88% forested, 34% of the forest is conifer plantation. This poses a challenge, because important foods of M. melampus tsuensis may not be common in these plantations (Tatara and Doi 1994). Between 1986 and 1989, 38 M. melampus tsuensis were found killed by vehicles and another 5 were found killed by feral dogs. The conservation plan for this subspecies should consider further habitat degredation by forestry practices and road development, as well as a method to control feral dogs (Buskirk 1994).

If there are no mating isolation mechanisms between endemic M. zibellina and introduced M. melampus in Hokkaido, natural hybridization between them may be possible (Hosoda et al. 1999). Hosoda suggests protection of M. zibellina from gene contamination by introduced M. melampus. Fortunately, there is no documentation of hybridization yet. However, mating isolation mechanisms between them have not been studied. Further research should evaluate whether there are different pre- and post-mating isolation mechanisms, in order to maintain the endemism of M. zibellina. (Buskirk et al., 1994; Hosoda et al., 1999; Otsu, 1972; Schreiber et al., 1989)
Other Comments

Genetic studies show that M. melampus separated from Martes zibellina about 1.8 million years ago (Hosoda et al. 1999; Kurose et al. 1999).

Hepatozoonosis is prevalent, but susceptibility to it may be low. The most commonly parasitized organ was the heart (Yanai et al. 1995). (Hosoda et al., 1999; Kurose et al., 1999; Yanai et al., 1995)

Bill Barthen (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.

Anderson, E. 1970. Quaternary evolution of the genus *Martes* (Carnivora, Mustelidae). Acta Zoologica, 130: 132.

Buskirk, S., A. Harestad, M. Raphael, R. Powell. 1994. Martens, sables, and fishers: biology and conservation. Ithaca, New York, U.S.A: Cornell University Press.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 2000. 2000 IUCN red list of threatened species. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

Hosoda, T., H. Suzuki, M. Iwasa, M. Hayashida, S. Watanabe. 1999. Genetic relationships within and between the Japanese marten *Martes melampus* and the sable *Martes zibellina*, based on variation of mitochondrial DNA and nuclear ribosomal DNA. Mammal Study, 24: 25-33.

Imaizumi, Y. 1949. The natural history of Japanese mammals. Tokyo, Japan: Yoyo shobo.

Kuroda, N. 1940. A monograph of the Japanese mammals. Tokyo, Japan: Sanseido.

Kurose, N., R. Masuda, B. Siriaroonrat, M. Yoshida. 1999. Intraspecific variation of mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences of *Martes melampus* and *Martes zibellina* (Mustelidae, Carnivora, Mammalia) in Japan. Zoological Science, 16: 693-700.

Macdonald, D. 1999. The encyclopedia of mammals. New York, New York, U.S.A: Facts on File, Incorporated.

Murakami, T., N. Ohtaishi. 2000. Current distribution of the sable and introduced Japanese marten in Hokkaido. Mammal Study, 25: 149-152.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A: The John's Hopkins University Press.

Obara, I. 1970. Stomach contents of a Tsushima marten, *Martes melampus tsuensis*. Mammalogical Society of Japan Journal, 5: 79-80.

Otsu, S. 1972. Winter food of Japanese yellow marten, *Martes melampus melampus* (Temminck and Schlegel), in Yamagata prefecture. Japenese Journal of Applied Entomology and Zoology, 16: 75-78.

Schreiber, A., R. Wirth, M. Riffel, H. Van Rompaey. 1989. Weasels, civits, mongooses, and their relatives: an action plan for the conservation of mustelids and viverrids. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

Tatara, M., T. Doi. 1994. Comparative analyses on food habits of Japanese marten, Siberian weasel, and leopard cat in the Tsushima Islands, Japan. Ecological Research, 9: 99-107.

Yanai, T., A. Tomita, T. Masegi, K. Ishikawa, T. Iwasaki. 1995. Histopathologic features on naturally occuring hepatozoonosis in wild martens (*Martes melampus*). Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 31: 233-237.

Yoshiyuki, M., M. Mikuriya. 1974. Some habits of the Japanese marten, *Martes melampus melampus* (Wagner 1840). Journal of the Mammalogical Society of Japan, 6: 39-42.
2008/12/14 13:58:17.148 US/Eastern

To cite this page: Barthen, B. 2003. "Martes melampus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed December 16, 2008 at - Discount Domain Registration - Make Money Now! - Make a Friend in Japan! - My Blog, Photos, and Videos


Shiba - Inu

The Shiba Inu (柴犬, Shiba Inu? also called the Shiba Ken) is the smallest of the six original and distinct breeds of dog from Japan.[1]

A small, agile dog that copes very well with mountainous terrain, the Shiba Inu was originally bred for hunting.[1][2] It is similar in appearance to the Akita, though much smaller in stature.

Inu is the Japanese word for dog, but the origin of the prefix "Shiba" is less clear. The word shiba usually refers to a type of red shrub. This leads some to believe that the Shiba was named with this in mind, either because the dogs were used to hunt in wild shrubs, or because the most common color of the Shiba Inu is a red color similar to that of the shrubs. However, in old Japanese, the word shiba also had the meaning of "small", thus this might be a reference to the dog's small size. Therefore, the Shiba Inu is sometimes translated as "Little Brushwood Dog" - Discount Domain Registration - Make Money Now! - My Blog, Photos, and Videos

Kiso - Japanese Horse


The Kiso horse has inhabited Japan for about one thousand years and has in the past been an indispensable aid for farm use, transportation, and power. Exact origin of the Kiso and other ancient horse breeds of Japan is uncertain. They are believed to be descended from either the plateau horses of Central Asia or the Mongolian horses of the grasslands.

Japan uses horses for military purposes as well as in agriculture and transportation. In the twelfth century, the warrior Yashinaka Kiso reportedly had 10,000 horse soldiers. In the Edo era (1600-1867) there was again emphasis on military use. Kiso canyon belonged to the Owari feudal clan. Records from this time regarding the ancient types have been a valuable aid to modern horse breeders. The government of the Kiso area considered the Kiso horse a strategic material, and produced many; numbers again reaching more than 10,000.

During the Meiji period (1868-1903), Japan fought against several foreign countries. Because Japanese horses are generally small in size, the authorities discouraged breeding purebred Kiso and encouraged a crossbreeding program between the Kiso and larger western horses. During the period surrounding World War II a government program was administered for the purpose of castrating purebred Kiso males. Consequently, almost all Kiso stallions were castrated. The Kiso was effected more dramatically by this administration plan because the breed had traditionally been considered a good military horse. Other Japanese horses were primarily used for agricultural purposes.

The existence of the Kiso breed is mainly due to a single horse kept as a holy horse at a Shinto shrine and therefore had not been castrated. The horse, named Shinmei, and another Kiso mare named Kayama gave birth to Dai-san Haruyama in 1951. This horse became the last of the pure Kiso. The present Kiso breed is a back-bred breed among the descendants of Dai-san Haruyama and other Kiso descendants. There are some ranches in Japan which specialize in Kiso or other Japanese horses.

The Kiso horse has a temperament quite similar to the Tarpan. They have been described as being similar in appearance to the Przewalski or the Mongolian horse. Some Kiso have dorsal stripe, which is one criteria for measuring the pureness of the horse as a Kiso. - Discount Domain Registration - Make Money Now! - My Blog, Photos, and Videos

Amami Rabbit - A Living Fossil in Japan

The Amami Rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi; Amami: ʔosagi), or Amami no Kuro Usagi 奄美の黒兔 (, Amami no Kuro Usagi 奄美の黒兔?), also known as the Ryukyu Rabbit, is a primitive dark-furred rabbit which is only found in Amami Ōshima and Toku-no-Shima, two small islands between southern Kyūshū and Okinawa in Kagoshima Prefecture (but actually closer to Okinawa) in Japan. Often called a living fossil, the Amami Rabbit is a living remnant of ancient rabbits that once lived on the Asian mainland, where they died out, remaining only on the two small islands where they survive today.

The Amami Rabbit has short legs, a somewhat bulky body, rather large and curved claws, and is active at night. Its ears are also significantly smaller than those of other rabbits or hares. A forest-dweller, it apparently only has one (or sometimes two) young at once, which the mother digs a hole in the ground for them to hide in during the day. At night, the mother opens the entrance to the hole, while watching for predators (like venomous snakes), and then nurses its young, after which it closes the hole with dirt and plant material by thumping on it with its front paws. Amami Rabbits sleep during the day in hidden places, such as caves. Amami Rabbits are also noted for making calling noises, which sound something like the call of a pika; this makes them unique as most rabbits cannot make calling noises.

Unfortunately, the Amami Rabbit is endangered, because of hunting, which ended when Japan gave the rabbit legal protection in 1921, but also because of deforestation and killings by dogs, cats, and other animals introduced by humans, which continue today. In particular, mongooses released by island residents to kill poisonous snakes have killed a large number of Amami Rabbits. Deforestation is also very harmful to the rabbits, especially as they are asleep during daylight, and will often be killed without being able to flee.

In July 2008, the Amami Rangers for Nature Conservation Office (奄美自然保護官事務所) obtained a photograph of a feral cat carrying an Amami rabbit corpse (previously, other evidence, such as Amami rabbit bones and fur found in cat or dog droppings had already been found), prompting discussions on better ways to control pets. - Discount Domain Registration - Make Money Now! - My Blog, Photos, and Videos


Japanese Deer - The Sika Deer (Cervus nippon)

The Sika Deer (Cervus nippon) is a member of the deer family Cervidae that inhabits much of East Asia. It is found in mixed deciduous forests to the north, and mixed subtropical deciduous and evergreen forests to the south. The Sika Deer are closely related to Red Deer, Central Asian Red Deer and elk.

Sika deer are found from the Ussuri region of Siberia south to Korea, Manchuria and Northern and Southern China, with a possibly isolated population in Vietnam. It is also native to Taiwan and Japan and were possibly introduced to some smaller western Pacific islands. The largest race of Sika deer (found in the colder north) are Dybowski's Sika Deer (C. n. dybowskii) of Manchuria and Ussuri Region, and the Hokkaidō Sika Deer (C. n. yesoensis) of Hokkaidō Island in Japan. The Kerama Sika Deer (C. n. keramae) of the Ryukyu Islands is one of the smallest, and unlike other subspecies, has the whole body (including the rump patch) dark brown. The Formosan Sika Deer (C. n. taioanus) is rather large for an island form being larger than the Kerama Sika Deer and similar in size to deer from Southern China. There are several geographically separated subspecies, but due to the long history of the velvet antler trade (for medicinal values) and farming of Sika deer for antler productio!
n in much of Turkestan, China, Mongolia, Manchuria, and the Ussuri Region, the integrity of these subspecies is questionable as many populations have already mixed gene pools. Other deer raised for antler trade were Thorold's Deer (Cervus albirostris), various Central Asian Red Deer (Cervus affinis) subspecies, and Wapiti (Cervus canadensis) subspecies. Sika deer are known to escape deer farms and many of the so-called wild sika deer populations in Central and Southern China are descendants of those that have escaped and have re-established themselves in the wild. In Taiwan, both Formosan Sika Deer and Formosan Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor swinhoei) have been farmed for velvet antlers. The only exceptions that may have integrity as a subspecies are possibly the Dybowski's Sika deer of Manchuria and Ussuri region, and the sika deer subspecies that survive in Japan, Ryukyu Islands, and Taiwan. Japan is the only country in Eastern Asia where sika deer were not farmed for velve!
t antler.
Dybowski's Sika Deer (C. n. dybowskii)
Tame deer wandering the streets of Miyajima, Japan

Sika Deer are widespread in Japan, and readily become tame; at one time they were regarded as sacred. The largest wild populations are in the northern island of Hokkaidō. Following Japanese settlement of Hokkaidō in the latter half of the 19th century, the deer there were hunted almost to the point of extinction, and were reduced to a few small populations. Legal protection put in place in the mid 20th century was followed by rapid population recovery from the 1950s to the 1980s. In the absence of the natural predators (wolves, now extinct in Japan), some hunting is now encouraged in order to stabilize the population and limit the agricultural damage done by the deer. The present Hokkaidō deer population is still concentrated in the eastern half of the island, and many deer that frequent other parts of the island migrate back to this area during the winter months.

Deer are also present in the more populated islands of Japan: for example, in the ancient capital city of Nara, as well as the sacred island of Miyajima, they wander at will among the temples, and are much photographed (and fed) by tourists. In other parts of Asia, the deer have also been extensively hunted, and legal protection has been less effective, so that several populations and subspecies are now endangered.
Formosan Sika Deer (Cervus nippon taioanus)

Sika Deer have been introduced into a number of other countries including Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Britain, France, Ireland, Jolo Island (south of the Philippines), New Zealand, Poland, Morocco and the United States (Maryland and Texas). In many cases they were originally introduced as ornamental animals in parkland, but have established themselves in the wild.

In Britain and Ireland several distinct wild and feral populations now exist. Some of these are in isolated areas, for example on the island of Lundy, but others are contiguous with populations of the native Red Deer. Since the two species sometimes hybridise, there is a serious conservation concern.

Across its original range, and more intensively in many countries to which it has been introduced, the sika is regarded as a particularly prized and elusive sportsman's quarry. In Britain, Ireland and mainland Europe it has been noted that sika display very different survival strategies and escape tactics from the indigenous deer. They have a marked tendency to use camouflage and concealment in circumstances when Red deer, for example, would flee; and have been seen to squat and lie belly-flat when danger threatens in the form of human intrusion. Hunters and control cullers have estimated that the sika's wariness and "cleverness" makes it three or four times more difficult to bring to bag than a Red or Fallow deer. It has also been widely remarked that sika are much more tenacious of life, and harder to kill with a rifle bullet, than the native deer of Europe and North America. In the British Isles sika are widely regarded as a very serious threat to new and established wood!
lands, and public and private forestry bodies adopt policies of rigorous year-round culling, generally with little effect.

Among aficionados of venison, sika flesh is regarded as one of the very finest and most flavourful of all game meats at the dinner table.

Sika (しか or 鹿) listen (help·info), romanized shika in the Hepburn system, is the Japanese word for deer in general. The full Japanese word for Cervus nippon is nihonjika (にほんじか or 日本鹿).

Dybowski's sika deer (Cervus nippon dybowskii) and Formosan sika deer (Cervus nippon taioanus) are highly endangered and possibly already extinct in the wild. They can be found in several zoos and are being kept alive by a captive-management program.

The Sitka Deer is a subspecies of Black-Tailed Deer and Mule Deer and therefore, a different species. - Discount Domain Registration - Make Money Now! - My Blog, Photos, and Videos