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Guarani: Aguará guazú
(meaning "large fox")
Genus meaning: Golden Dog
Brazil: Lobo colorado
|Discoverer||Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger|
|Lifespan||Captivity: 12-15 years|
|Reproduction||Sexual; give live birth|
|Average Height||90 cm (35 in) at the shoulder|
|Average Weight||23 kg (51 lb)|
|Average Length||Head-Body: 100 cm (39 in)|
Tail: 45 cm (18 in)
|Prey||Brazilian Gracile Opossum|
Also see Dietary habits below
|Distinctive Features||Fox-like face markings|
Long, skinny legs
|Last Sighting||Present day|
The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is the largest canid of South America. Its markings resemble those of foxes, but it is not a fox. It is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon (meaning "golden dog").
This mammal is found in open and semi-open habitats, especially grasslands with scattered bushes and trees, in south, central-west, and southeastern Brazil (Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Goiás, São Paulo, Federal District, and recently, Rio Grande do Sul), Paraguay, northern Argentina, Bolivia east and north of the Andes, and far southeastern Peru (Pampas del Heath only). It is very rare in Uruguay, possibly being displaced completely through loss of habitat.
The maned wolf bears minor similarities to the red fox, although it belongs to a completely different genus- You can see that they stand much taller and have wider snouts. The average adult weighs 23 kg (51 lb) and stands 90 cm (35 in) tall at the shoulder, has a head-body length of 100 cm (39 in) with the tail adding another 45 cm (18 in).
The maned wolf is the tallest of the wild canids, its long legs probably an adaptation to the tall grasslands of its native habitat. Fur of the maned wolf may be reddish brown to golden orange on the sides with long, black legs, and a distinctive black mane. The coat is marked further with a whitish tuft at the tip of the tail and a white "bib" beneath the throat. The mane is erectile, and typically, is used to enlarge the wolf's profile when threatened or when displaying aggression.
The maned wolf also is known for the distinctive odor of its territory markings, which has earned it the nickname "skunk wolf."
Hunting and territoriality
Unlike other large canids (such as the gray wolf, the African hunting dog, or the dhole) the maned wolf does not form packs. It hunts alone, usually between sundown and midnight. It kills its prey by biting at the neck or back, and shaking the prey violently if necessary. Monogamous pairs may defend a shared territory of approximately 30 km2 (12 sq mi), although outside of mating, the individuals may meet seldom. The territory is crisscrossed by paths that the maned wolves create as they patrol at night. Several adults may congregate in the presence of a plentiful food source, for example, a fire-cleared patch of grassland that would leave small vertebrate prey exposed while foraging.
Both female and male maned wolves use their urine to communicate, e.g. to mark their hunting paths or the places where they have buried hunted prey. The urine has a very distinctive odor, which some people liken to hops or cannabis. The responsible substance very likely is a pyrazine, which also occurs in both plants. The preferred habitat of the maned wolf include grasslands, scrub prairies, and forests.
Their mating season ranges from November to April. Gestation lasts 60 to 65 days and a litter may have from two to six black-furred pups, each weighing approximately 450 g (16 oz). Pups are fully grown when one year old. During that first year, the pups are known to rely on their parents for food.
The maned wolf is omnivorous. It specializes in small and medium-sized prey, including small mammals (typically rodents and rabbits), birds, and even fish, but a large portion of its diet (more than 50%, according to some studies) is vegetable matter, including sugarcane, tubers, and fruit (especially the wolf apple, Solanum lycocarpum, a tomato-like fruit). Traditionally, captive maned wolves were fed meat-heavy diets, but that causes them to develop bladder stones. Zoo diets for them now feature fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and dog chow.
Relations with other species
The maned wolf participates in symbiotic relationships. It contributes to the propagation and dissemination of the plants that it feeds on, through excretion. Often maned wolves defecate on the nests of leafcutter ants. The ants then use the dung to fertilize their fungus gardens, but they discard the seeds contained in the dung onto refuse piles just outside their nests. This process significantly increases the germination rate of the seeds.
The maned wolf is not a common prey species for any predator, although it may be attacked or killed by feral dogs. An additional threat to the maned wolf exists from sharing territory with domestic dogs. The maned wolf is particularly susceptible to infection by the giant kidney worm, a potentially fatal parasite that also may infect domestic dogs.
The maned wolf shares its evolutionary line with many canids, including the now extinct Warrah and the Tibetan Fox.