Over the centuries raccoons have been steadily moving their broods into more urban areas around the United States and elsewhere. Raccoons are native the North and South American continent, but there are plenty of different types of raccoons that, long ago, managed to sneak into foreign countries.
For example, in 1970s Japan, a television cartoon about a talking raccoon became popular in the country. The show was called Rascal the Raccoon, and it made the Japanese people so crazy over raccoons that many started importing raccoons from the United States in order to keep them as pets. However, the raccoon fad in Japan quickly died down as many homeowners did not know how to take care of an adult raccoon. That is when many Japanese citizens started letting their raccoons lose in the wilderness. Now, several decades after Japan’s raccoon craze, raccoons are a common sighting in Japan. Unfortunately, raccoons are being blamed for destroying eighty percent of the ancient temples that were located in Japan’s wooded areas. Since raccoons are not native to Japan, the raccoons were not held in check by any natural predators. This allowed raccoons to cause significant damage in Japan. Every year ten thousand raccoons are captured in Japan and taken from their forest habitat in an effort to decrease the raccoon population. Who would have thought that a children’s television show could cause so much damage?
Raccoons are also not native to Europe, but in Kassel, Germany there are one hundred raccoons per square kilometer. Kassel, Germany is known as the “raccoon Capital” of Europe. The locals are starting to become frightened by the abundance of raccoons in the area. And the locals should be scared because raccoons have grown to be twenty times larger than they were seventy years ago. This is due to the increased access to food that raccoons have enjoyed during the past several decades.
Have you ever spotted a raccoon while vacationing in Japan?