The diet of feral raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and native badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Denmark

Morten Elmeros, Dorthe Malene Götz Mikkelsen, Louise Solveig Nørgaard, Cino Pertoldi, Trine Hammer Jensen, Mariann Chriél

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The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) is an East Asian Canid that has been introduced in Europe. Introduction of alien species is an increasing conservation issue. We examined the diet of a recently established raccoon dog population in Denmark by analysing stomach content in 249 carcasses collected in 2008–2016. Raccoon dog diet was compared to the diet of native badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Denmark. The most common food for raccoon dogs were invertebrates (frequency of occurrence, FO 69%), small mammals (FO 68%), birds (FO 41%), fruits (FO 38%), amphibians (FO 36%) and carrions (FO 34%). The occurrence of invertebrates was highest during spring and summer, while fruits, cereals and carrions were eaten most often during autumn and winter. As expected, raccoon dog shared the major food categories with badger and red fox, but generally, it had a wider dietary niche. Overall, dietary overlap between raccoon dog and badger was 0.74 (Pianka index, Ojk). The dietary overlap with red fox was relatively high in all seasons, peaking in summer (Ojk 0.87) and dropping in winter (Ojk 0.79). Despite the dietary overlap between the alien racoon dog and native red fox and badger, the species may coexist due to partitioning of feeding habitats and/or because the red fox is limited by other factors, e.g. diseases and anthropogenic activities. The introduced raccoon dog seems to fit a dietary niche between badger and red foxes in human-dominated landscapes in north-western Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalMammal Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Alien carnivore
  • Dietary niche
  • Dietary overlap
  • Food partitioning
  • Native carnivore

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