Dingo

Dingo

Australian wild dog

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Canis dingo
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
5-15 yrs
TOP SPEED
48 km/h
WEIGHT
13-20 kg
HEIGHT
52-60 cm
LENGTH
117-154 cm

Dingo is a wild dog, found primarily in Australia. As compared with domestic dogs, dingo has longer canines and longer, tapered muzzle. The body shape of this dog is quite lean and the tail is bushy. Dingo has also pricked ears, which help the animal to hear well. The color of their body usually ranges from sandy-yellow to red ginger, though some individuals can be white, black or black-tan. Dingoes have brown, almond-shaped eyes. In addition, these dogs can be identified by white markings on their chest, feet and tip of the tail.

Distibution

While being found in most of continental Australia, these dogs are absent from Tasmania. The area of their distribution also includes natural forests of southeastern Asia. They live in wide variety of habitats such as tropical forest wetlands of Northern Australia, deserts of Central Australia and Eastern Australia's snow-covered mountain forests.

Dingo habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Generally, dingoes are sociable animals, gathering in packs to mate and socialize. However, some individuals prefer living solitary life. Dingo packs normally contain 3-12 animals, including dominant male and female, that are determined through fierce stand-offs. When gathering, these animals howl, scent mark and come into conflict with each other. They are most active at sunrise and sunset, when their prey is also active. These dogs are very territorial animals. They choose the territory not according to the size of their pack, but depending on characteristics of the environment such as prey availability or terrain texture. They don't tend to bark, but they are known to howl, especially at night, attracting their pack members or scaring away intruders.

Group name

Diet and Nutrition

They are carnivorous animals, consuming wide variety of food from water buffalo to insects. Dingoes are opportunistic feeders, hunting different species from mice to wallabies and kangaroos, from rats to rabbits, geese and lizards. They can also scavenge carcasses of dead animals. In addition, dingoes feed upon plants and fruit.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
March-April in Australia, August-September in Southeast Asia
PREGNANCY DURATION
63 days
BABY CARRYING
4-5 pups
INDEPENDENT AGE
8 weeks
FEMALE NAME
bitch
MALE NAME
dog
BABY NAME
pup

Dingoes are monogamous, mating for life. The dominant pair of the pack breeds in the group, where other members of the pack help them in bringing up their pups. The mating season of Australian dingoes lasts from March to April whereas in southeastern Asia they mate in August-September. The period of gestation lasts about 63 days, yielding 4-5 babies on average. The female gives birth in a den. After 3 weeks, the pups start venturing out of the den. At the age of 8 weeks, the young are fully weaned. By this time, they leave the den and start living with the pack. Then, between 3 and 4 months old, the pups begin to accompany adults during the hunt. And finally, at 3 years old, dingoes mate, staying together throughout their lives.

Population

Population threats

One of the major threats to dingo population is human persecution: in agricultural lands and pastures, these animals are frequently poisoned, trapped and shot. Another serious threat is interbreeding between dingo and the domestic dog. The urban development throughout coastal and outback areas of Australia promotes contacts between these two, leading to dilution and potential extinction of their gene pool. These animals are sold in food markets of some Asian countries, where their meat is an important source of protein for indigenous people. Also, in Indonesia and the Pacific islands, canine of dingo is used as a decoration.

Population number

The total number of their population is unknown but currently decreasing. On the IUCN Red List, dingo is classified as Vulnerable (VU) species.

Ecological niche

This dog is the primary mammalian carnivore of Australia. Dingoes control populations of prey species such as European rabbit, which is a pest throughout Australia. Dingoes compete with foxes and feral cats, when preying on small animals. However, when hunting on large species during times of drought, they are more successful than foxes or feral cats. Due to this, their population is high, though they are responsible for the loss of many medium-sized Australian mammal species such of rat-kangaroos, bandicoots and macropodids.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Wrists of dingoes are very flexible and able to rotate. Due to this ability, the paws act like hands, allowing the animal to even turn a door handle. Along with the wrists, the head of the dingo is extremely agile, turning through 180 degrees in each direction.
  • According to research, conducted at Sydney's University of New South Wales, the dingo is likely to be the oldest breed of dog in the world.
  • They usually hunt at night, able to travel up to 37 miles per night in search of food.
  • The habit of hiding remains of their food under the ground makes dingoes quite similar to dogs.
  • Tamed dingoes served the early Aboriginals as living bottles with hot water, keeping them warm at night.
  • There's a recorded case of a female dingo, moving 6 pups one by one over 9 km distance in a single night, thus making a journey of 180 km in just one night.

References

1. Dingo Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingo
2. Dingo on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41585/0

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