A Tanuki, the Japanese raccoon dog, is the cute animal of this Internet moment

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Internet Falls for Tanu the Raccoon Dog

The tanuki, a Japanese species sometimes called a "raccoon dog," is perhaps best known in the West — if it's known at all — for appearing in a classic Mario game and being a trickster god with giant testicles (there's an entire Tom Robbins novel based on this legend). But, as the internet is finding out today, tanuki are real, and they're spectacularly cute.

Photos of a tanuki named Tanu playing in the snow have been making the rounds since Tanu's owner, @chibi_tori, posted them early this morning. After a write-up on BuzzFeed, tanuki made the list of trending topics, and now the whole world is mad for the cute raccoon-thing with the giant balls.

And why not? Look at him.

Look.

At.

Him.

Although wildlife experts don't recommend keeping tanuki as pets — as they've moved into urban areas and started eating cats' food, they've also picked up an unfortunate outbreak of mange — Tanu seems to be a rare success story.

@chibi_tori tells BuzzFeed he found Tanu abandoned last June and has been raising him as a pet. During the winter, the little guy mainly just wants to sleep inside next to a warm stove.

Nice, nice.

See more of the adorable tanuki:

10 PHOTOS
Tanuki, the 'raccoon dog' species
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A Tanuki, the Japanese raccoon dog, is the cute animal of this Internet moment
View of a raccoon dog or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a raccoon dog or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a group of raccoon dogs or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of raccoon dogs or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a raccoon dog or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a group of raccoon dogs or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a raccoon dog or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a group of raccoon dogs or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a group of raccoon dogs or Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides) at the Chapultpec Zoo in Mexico City on August 06, 2015. A month ago nine raccoon dog pups were born. This species is native from Japan and China, and the parents of the cubs were donated by Japan. AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
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