The maned wolf is distributed from the mouth of the Parnaiba River in northeastern Brazil west to the Pampas del Heath in Peru and South through the Chaco of Paraguay to Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Its former range included parts of Uruguay and Argentina.
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay
Chrysocyon brachyurus is a stunning animal. The largest of all South American canids, it stands almost one meter tall at the shoulder and has a long, golden-red coat. Head and body length ranges from 1245 to 1320mm and tail length from 280 to 405mm. The long thin legs, which may serve to help the maned wolf to see above tall grass, grade from red to black at their lower portions. The anterior part of the erectile mane of long hairs is black as well. The body is narrow and the ears large and erect. The dentition of the maned wolf reflects its food habits. As this animal does not kill or eat large prey, its upper carnassials (shearing teeth) are reduced, its upper incisors weak, and its canines are long and slender.
Range mass: 20 to 23 kg.
Habitat and Ecology
Omnivorous, consuming principally fruits and small- to medium-sized vertebrates. Numerous authors (Dietz 1984; Carvalho and Vasconcellos 1995; Motta-JÃºnior et al. 1996; Azevedo and Gastal 1997; Motta-JÃºnior 1997; Rodrigues et al. 1998; JÃ¡como 1999; Santos 1999; Silveira 1999; Juarez and Marinho 2002; F. Rodrigues unpubl.) have investigated the diet of the Maned Wolf. These studies have all found a wide variety of plant and animal material in the diet, with about 50% of the diet comprising plant material and 50% animal matter. The fruit Solanum lycocarpum grows throughout much of the range and is a primary food source; other important items include small mammals (Caviidae, Muridae, Echimydae) and armadillos, other fruits (Annonaceae, Myrtaceae, Palmae, Bromeliaceae and others), birds (Tinamidae, Emberizidae and others), reptiles and arthropods. Although the frequency of plant and animal items found in faecal samples is approximately equal, the biomass of animal items is usually greater than that of plant items (Motta-JÃºnior et al. 1996; Santos 1999; F. Rodrigues unpubl.). Certain items, such as rodents and Solanum, are consumed year round, but the diet varies with food availability. At least occasionally, pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus) are also consumed (Bestelmeyer and Westbrook 1998). In JÃ¡como's (1999) study, deer appeared in 2.4% of 1,673 samples analysed.
Chrysocyon brachyurus is found in grassland, savanna, dry shrub forest, swampy areas, forest-edge habitat, and river areas.
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest
The maned wolf is omnivorous. It eats armadillos, rabbits, rodents and other small mammals, fish, birds, bird eggs, reptiles, gastropods and other terrestrial mollusks, insects, seasonably available fruits, and other vegetation. Fruits taken include bananas, guavas, and primarily the tomato-like Solanum lycocarpum. (S. lycocarpum may provide medicinal aid against Dioctophyme renale, a worm that infects the kidneys of the maned wolf). Vegetation eaten is often in the form of roots and bulbs. Vertebrate prey do not often include large domestic stock, but an occasional newborn lamb or pig is taken by Chrysocyon. The maned wolf, much to the dislike of poultry farmers, frequently feeds upon free-ranging chickens. It stalks and pounces in a fox-like manner upon its animal prey.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; fish; eggs; insects; mollusks
Plant Foods: roots and tubers; fruit
Primary Diet: omnivore
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 13.0 years.
Status: captivity: 15.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Maned wolves are monogamous, though males and females tend to live independently except during the breeding season.
Mating System: monogamous
Little is known about the reproductive patterns of wild maned wolves. Females are monoestrous. Breeding season is probably controlled by photoperiod; captives copulate between October and February in the Northern Hemisphere and between August and October in South America. The estrous lasts for a period of one to four days. Gestation in captivity is similar to that of other canids and lasts approximately 65 days. A litter usually contains one to five young. A record number of seven has been observed. Young are born weighing 340 to 430 grams and develop quickly. Their eyes and ears open by day nine, their ears stand upright and they will take regurgitated food by week four, the pelage changes from black to red by week ten, they are weaned by 15 weeks, and their bodies have the proportions of adults at one year, at which time they reach sexual maturity. Captive individuals have lived 15 years. Non-captive maned wolves give birth in natal nests hidden by thick vegetation. Wild maned wolves are rarely seen with their pups.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 5.
Average number of offspring: 2.47.
Range gestation period: 56 to 66 days.
Range weaning age: 120 to 210 days.
Average birth mass: 368 g.
Average number of offspring: 3.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 730 days.
Parental Investment: altricial
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chrysocyon brachyurus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2004Near Threatened
- 1996Lower Risk/near threatened(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
- 1994Vulnerable(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Vulnerable(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Vulnerable(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Vulnerable(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
- 1982Vulnerable(Thornback and Jenkins 1982)
Date Listed: 12/02/1970
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Entire
Population location: Entire
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Chrysocyon brachyurus , see its USFWS Species Profile
Chrysocyon brachyurus is listed as CITES Appendix II, U.S. ESA-Endangered, and IUCN-Vulnerable. Habitat destruction (including the annual burning of its grasslands), persecution by angry poultry farmers, hunting for sport, and live capture are factors that threaten the maned wolf. This animal disapeared from Uruguay in the 19th Century. Its former range also included parts of Argentina south of the La Plata River.
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
With their primarily solitary habits and large home ranges, Maned Wolves are found in low densities throughout the range.
There is no commercial use. Indications are that the use of Maned Wolf parts for medicinal purposes does not involve any sort of large-scale commercial transactions and is confined to native folk medicine.
The species occurs in many protected areas in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and, possibly, Peru.
Assessors are not aware of any conservation actions specific to the Maned Wolf. However, they are the beneficiaries of broader attempts to protect the cerrado (for example, recent actions to reduce the impact of road kills in Brasilia).
Occurrence in captivity
As of 31 December 1999, 144 institutions reported a total of 412 maned wolves in captivity, including 203 males and 209 females.
Gaps in knowledge
Population surveys throughout the species' range are needed. The impact of human encroachment on suitable habitat is not clearly understood, and the suitability of agricultural land as maned wolf habitat needs to be investigated. The impact of disease processes on wild populations is not well understood.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
As mentioned above, the maned wolf takes domestic poultry and the occasional lamb or newborn pig.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
The maned wolf eats crop pests such as rabbits and small rodents.
This mammal is found in open and semi-open habitats, especially grasslands with scattered bushes and trees, in south, central-west and south-eastern 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 south-eastern Peru (Pampas del Heath only). It is very rare in Uruguay, being possibly extirpated. IUCN lists it as near threatened, while it is considered vulnerable by the Brazilian government (IBAMA). It is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon (meaning "Golden Dog"). It is locally known as aguará guazú (meaning "large fox" in the Guarani language), or "kalak" by the Toba, lobo de crin, lobo de los esteros or lobo colorado, and as lobo-guará in Brazil. It is also called borochi in Bolivia.
The maned wolf bears minor similarities to the red fox, though it should be noted that it belongs to a completely different genus. 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, the long legs are 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 further marked with a whitish tuft at the tip of the tail and a white "bib" beneath the throat. The mane is erectile, and is typically used to enlarge the wolf's profile when threatened or when displaying aggression.
The maned wolf is also known for its distinctive odor, 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 on the neck or back, and shaking it violently if necessary. Monogamous pairs may defend a shared territory of about 30 km2 (12 sq mi), though the individuals themselves may seldom meet, outside of mating. The territory is crisscrossed by paths that the maned wolf create as they patrol at night. Several adults may congregate in the presence of a plentiful food source; a fire-cleared patch of grassland, for example, which would leave small vertebrate prey exposed while foraging.
Both male and female 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 smell, which some people liken to hops or cannabis. The responsible substance is very likely a pyrazine, which occurs in both plants. (At the Rotterdam Zoo, this smell once set the police on a hunt for cannabis smokers. ) The maned wolf's preferred habitat include grasslands, scrub prairies, and forests.
The mating season ranges from November to April. Gestation lasts 60 to 65 days, and a litter may have from 2 to 6 black-furred pups, each weighing about 450 g (16 oz). These pups are fully grown in about one year. During that year, the pups are known to rely on their parents for food.
The maned wolf specializes in small and medium-sized prey, including small mammals (typically rodents and rabbits), birds, and even fish. A large fraction of its diet (over 50%, according to some studies) is vegetable matter, including sugarcane, tubers, and fruit (especially the wolf apple, Solanum lycocarpum, a tomato-like fruit). Captive maned wolves were traditionally fed meat-heavy diets and developed bladder stones. Zoo diets now feature fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and dog chow.
Relations with other species
The maned wolf participates in symbiotic relationships with the plants that it feeds on, as it carries the seeds of various plants, and often defecates on the nests of leafcutter ants. The ants then use the dung to fertilize their fungus gardens, and later discard the seeds onto refuse piles just outside their nest. This process significantly increases the germination rate of the seeds. The maned wolf is particularly susceptible to infection by the giant kidney worm, a potentially fatal parasite that may also infect domestic dogs. The maned wolf is not a common prey species for any other predator, though it may be attacked or killed by feral domestic dogs.
Relations with humans
The maned wolf is said to be a potential chicken thief; it was once also considered a threat to cattle and sheep, though this is now known to be false. In Brazil, the animal was historically hunted down for some body parts, notably the eyes, that were believed to be good luck charms. Since its classification as a Vulnerable species by the Brazilian government, it has received greater consideration and protection from most people. They are also threatened by habitat loss and being run over by cars. Feral and domestic dogs attack them and pass on diseases to them. The maned wolf is generally shy and flees when alarmed, so it poses little direct threat to humans. It occurs in several protected areas, including the national parks of Caraça and Emas in Brazil. The maned wolf is well represented in captivity, and has been bred successfully at a number of zoos, particularly in Argentina.
Although the maned wolf displays many fox-like characteristics, it is not closely related to foxes and lacks the elliptical pupils found in foxes. The maned wolf's evolutionary relationship to the other members of the canid family makes it a unique animal. Electrophoretic studies did not link Chrysocyon with any of the other canids studied. One conclusion of this study is that the maned wolf is the only survivor of the late Pleistocene extinction of the large South American canids. Fossils of the maned wolf from the Holocene and the late Pleistocene have been excavated from the Brazilian Highlands. 
A study, published in 2003, on the brain anatomy of several canids, placed the maned wolf together with the Falkland Islands wolf, and with pseudo-foxes of the genus Pseudalopex. One study based on DNA evidence, published in 2009, showed that the extinct genus Dusicyon, the Falkland Islands wolf and its mainland relative, was the most closely related species to the maned wolf in historical times, and shared a common ancestor with it about 7 million years ago.
The maned wolf is not closely related to any other living canid. It is not a fox, wolf, coyote, dog, or jackal, but a distinct canid, although previously it had been placed in Canis and Vulpes genera based on morphological similarities. Its closest living relative is the bush dog (genus Speothos), with a more distant relationship to other South American canines (the short-eared dog, the crab-eating fox and the 'false foxes' or Pseudalopex).
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