Rare 'unpredictable' raccoon dog on the loose in Wales but experts don't know where it came from

150221 Racoon Dog
Natural Resources Wales are on the lookout for the escaped raccoon dog. Credit: Natural Resources Wales

A rare runaway raccoon dog is on the loose in the Welsh countryside after having been spotted in the Colebren area of Powys, near the Brecon Beacons National Park border.

It is a member of the canine family but has a face more similar to a raccoon.Animal welfare officers say the "unpredictable" animals are not suited to being pets - and it is illegal to sell or breed them.Experts don't know how long the animal has been missing or where it escaped from.The RSPCA “strongly discourages people” from owning the animals

It was made illegal to sell them in February 2019 because they pose a risk to native species in Europe.A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "They need a great deal of space and their needs simply cannot be met in a typical household.“They’re also extremely smelly as they use scent to communicate with one another.”The animal is classed as an “invasive species” that is native to the forests of China, Japan, Korea, Siberia and Vietnam.The breed feeds on insects, rodents, amphibians, birds, fish, molluscs and carrion, as well as fruits, nuts and berries.The sighting is the second time a raccoon dog has been spotted in Wales - after one was caught in Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire, in 2020.Natural Resources Wales previously took “swift action” following a request from the Welsh Government’s rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths and the animal was captured and humanly destroyed.