IntroductionFound only in Africa, the African Wild Dog is an endangered species that lives mainly in the Savanna and regions where it is very arid. Also referred to as the hunting dog or the painted wolf, it has several characteristics in common with the domestic dog. What sets the wild dog apart, when compared with the domestic dog, is the fact that its ears are shaped like bats and they stand upright, as well as the fact that it has four toes instead of five on each foot. Read on for more interesting African wild dog facts written for kids and adults.
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African Wild Dog General Facts
- These dogs are very social animals that live and travel in packs ranging in size from 6 to 20 dogs. Depending on the size of the pack they will sometimes share their food and even tend to the weak, young, and sick members of the pack.
- The African Wild Dog is a very vocal animal that makes a variety of sounds for different reasons. A short bark signifies alarm where a howl may signify that it's time to hunt.
- Running long distances at speeds up to 35 miles an hour (56 Kilometers per hour) are common for the African Wild Dog.
- Natural predators of the African Wild Dog are few, with the spotted hyena and the lion being of greatest concern, especially for the young pups. The main predator for these dogs are humans. Humans have shot so many of these dogs that the population has drastically declined.
- Litters average about 10 pups with a gestation period of just 2 1/2 months.
- The lifespan of an African Wild Dog is in the range of 10 -12 years in the wild.
African Wild Dog Physical Characteristics
- The African Wild Dogs colorful coat is a mixture of different fur colors including red, yellow, brown, white, and black. No two patterns are exactly alike.
- These dogs have notably large, strong jaws with incredible biting force.
- African Wild Dogs have long legs, which help them run fast, and bushy tails accented with a white tip. It is believed that other pack members can spot the tail while hunting and stay in close contact.
African Wild Dog Hunting Facts
- As a pack, the dogs will hunt large prey such as antelope, gazelles and Wildebeests. They will also feed on birds and rodents like rats.
- Before the pack goes out in search of prey they will get ready by making noises and circling around the other dogs, almost like a dance.
- The dogs work together to catch prey. Some lead the way while others trail behind, ready to take the lead when the leaders show signs of tiring.
- Because of the hot and dry environment in which they live, these dogs tend to hunt during the cooler parts of the day - in the early morning hours and the later evening hours.
- The hunting system for catching prey coupled with the fact that these animals are such incredible athletes makes for very successful hunts. Their prey usually has very little opportunity to escape.