The Bush Dog is a canid found in Central and South America, including Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru (West of the Andes), Ecuador, the Guianas, Paraguay, northeast Argentina (Misiones province), and Brazil (from the Amazon rainforest to the state of Amazonas). In spite of its extensive range, it is very rare; it was originally discovered as fossils in Brazilian caves and thought to be extinct. It is the only species in its genus, Speothos.
In Brazil it is called cachorro-vinagre ("Vinegar Dog") or cachorro-do-mato ("Bush Dog"). In Spanish-speaking countries it is called perro vinagre("Vinegar Dog"), , zorro vinagre ("Vinegar Fox"), perro de agua ("Water Dog"), or perro de monte ("Bush Dog").
Description and Habits
The Bush Dog has soft long brownish-tan fur, with a lighter reddish tinge on the head, neck and back and a bushy tail. The underside is dark, sometimes with a lighter throat patch. Adults typically have 55–75 cm of head and body, plus 13 cm of tail, and weigh 5–7 kg. Legs and snout are short relative to body length: the typical height is only 25–30 cm. The teeth are adapted for its carnivorous habits, and uniquely for an American canid, the dental formula is
for a total of 40 teeth. The Bush Dog is one of three canid species with trenchant heel dentition, a unicuspid talonid on the lower carnassial molar that increases the cutting blade length.
It is a carnivore and hunts during the day, preferably in wet savannahs and tropical and equatorial forests. Its typical prey is the Paca (Cuniculus paca), a large rodent. Although it can hunt alone on occasion, the Bush Dog is usually found in small packs of up to 10–12 individuals, which can bring down much larger prey. It may be the most gregarious of the South American canid species. It is a good swimmer (thanks to its webbed feet). It uses hollow logs and cavities (e.g. armadillo burrows) for shelter. Pack-mates keep in contact with frequent whines, perhaps because visibility is poor in the undergrowth where the animal typically hunts.
The gestation period is 63 days, and a litter can have up to six dark grey pups. Lactation lasts approximately 8 weeks. The Bush Dog is sexually mature at 1 year and lives for about 10 years.
- Speothos venaticus panamensis (Panama)
- Speothos venaticus venaticus (Ecuador and Colombia (west of the Andes), Northern Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, Northern and Central Brazil and endangerd in Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina)
- Speothos venaticus wingei (Southeast Brazil)
- Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), one of its closest relatives.
- ^ a b c d Wozencraft, W. C. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds). ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14000836.
- ^ a b c Zuercher, G.L., Swarner, M., Silveira, L. & Carrillo, O. (2008). Speothos venaticus. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2008. Retrieved on 22 March 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is near threatened
- ^ Macdonald, D. (1984). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 31. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.