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Tanuki, otherwise known as "raccoon dogs", are a species of character in Animal Crossing. Tanuki are frequently confused with raccoons in Western culture (and referred to as raccoons in-game), but they are actually of the same biological family as dogs and wolves.
There are three tanuki in the games so far, and all of them have been special characters.
In Japanese folklore, tanuki are often depicted as mythical creatures with shapeshifting powers. Using leaves, they can assume different forms, generally doing so to pull pranks on humans; this is likely why pocketed furniture items are stylized as leaves in the Animal Crossing series. Tanuki cloth is also associated with wealth and money in Japanese culture, which might be the inspiration behind Tom's financial success.