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The largest wild canid in South America, the maned wolf stands 2-1/2 feet at the shoulder, is 51 inches long from tip of nose to base of 16-inch-long tail, and weighs up to 51 pounds. Much of the maned wolf's height comes from its long, thin legs; the hind legs are significantly longer than the front legs.
The shaggy coat is golden red, except for the neck and shoulders, which are black. Like most dogs, the maned wolf's neck hairs stand up when the animal is excited. The lower legs are black, and there is also some black around the mouth. The end of the tail, insides of the large ears, and underside of the chin are white.
Distribution and Habitat
The maned wolf is found in central and southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia, and northern Argentina. Its range once included parts of Uruguay and Argentina, but it has disappeared from those areas due to habitat destruction, poaching, and hunting by farmers angry at the wolf for killing chickens. It lives in open forest, savanna, and marshland.
Habits and Behaviors
Nocturnal in the wild, maned foxes spend the daylight hours resting in areas of thick brush cover. Most feeding is done during the dusk and dawn hours, and most movement occurs overnight. Males tend to be more active than females.
One of the most solitary of all canids, maned wolves only come together for mating and pup rearing. Mating pairs will share a single well-defined territory, but the individuals stay apart except for breeding. The territory of one pair may abut that of another, but there is almost never any interaction between individuals at teritorial borders. Non-paired males skirt the edges of pair boundaries and replace males removed by death. Non-paired females have never been observed in the wild.
Maned wolves feed on rodents, reptiles, birds, insects, snails, and other small animals, as well as fruits, sugar cane, and other plant foods. They have been observed capturing prey with two primary techniques, a stiff-legged pounce, similar to that of a fox, and a bite to the head or neck followed by a rapid lateral head shake. They use their teeth, rather than their paws, to dig out rodents. Prey items are often cached for later consumption, which is done by digging a hole for the food and then covering the item with dirt and vegetation.
Mating pairs appear to stay together for life. Breeding is believed to occur between August and October, but this time period has only been confirmed in captive specimens.
One to five pups are born after a gestation of about 65 days. They develop quickly, with the eyes and ears opening by day nine, and weaning taking place by week fifteen. Although it has yet to be seen in the wild, captive males have been observed assisting the female with the grooming, feeding, and defense of pups, which reach sexual maturity at one year, at which time they become completely independent.
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This page was last updated on June 11, 2017.