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People in Wales have been warned not to approach an "unpredictable" raccoon dog that is currently on the loose if they come across it.

The animal was last spotted in the Coelbren, Powys a month ago after escaping from its home and has been missing for several weeks which Natural Resources Wales announced on Monday (February 14).

Known for having a similar resemblance to a racoon, the wild animal which is indigenous to East Asia is not actually related to a raccoon but is part of the canine family and is about as big as a medium-sized dog.

Locals have been told not to approach the raccoon dog if they spot it, as the animal can bite humans if they are feeling threatened and leaflets have been distributed to them with this warning.

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Natural Resources Wales said: "Raccoon dogs will naturally range further in the wild and so could be seen more than eight miles away. They are small, nocturnal fox-sized animals, originally from East Asia that look like raccoons. Their diet includes fruit, insects, rodents, frogs, birds and eggs so they can have a negative impact on native wildlife."

"If you think you might have spotted one (dead or alive), or know where it might have escaped from please report this as soon as possible. As with any wild animal, their behaviour may be unpredictable and are not to be approached."

Although it is not illegal to keep racoon dogs as pets, the RSPCA advises against this.

Meanwhile, there has been a law in place since February 2019 which makes it illegal to breed or sell raccoon dogs.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “Raccoon dogs are not domesticated pets. 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.”

It's not the first time there have been raccoon dog sightings in the UK - in July 2020, one was captured and destroyed in Carmarthenshire and then in Clarborough, Nottinghamshire, the village was "under siege" back in May 2019 when two raccoon dogs were on the loose.

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