DOGS, WOLVES, COYOTES, JACKALS, AND FOXES – Canidae

DOGS, WOLVES, COYOTES, JACKALS, AND FOXES

DOGS, WOLVES, COYOTES, JACKALS, AND FOXES FACTS

Canids (members of the dog family) have a uniform body color with markings on the head and tail tip. Dogs typically come in black, black and white, brown, or red. The only exception is the African wild dog that has patches of black, white, and yellow. The canid’s coat consists of a dense underfur and an overcoat of waterproof guard hairs, which retain a large amount of body heat for survival in very cold climates. Canids range in weight from the fennec fox, at about 3 pounds (1.3 kilograms), to the gray wolf, which can be as heavy as 175 pounds (80 kilograms). They are digitigrade, walking on their toes. This enables them to make quick stops and turns. A keen sense of smell comes from more than 200 million scent cells in the nose (humans have about five million scent cells).

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Canids live on every continent except Antarctica.

DOGS, WOLVES, COYOTES, JACKALS, AND FOXES HABITAT

Most canids favor areas where forests meet open country. Some live in deserts. The Arctic fox and some gray wolves occupy the tundra. The bush dog and raccoon dog prefer thick forests near water. Canids have also adapted to human environments.

DOGS, WOLVES, COYOTES, JACKALS, AND FOXES DIET

Canids primarily prey on other mammals. Large prey include elk and caribou, and small animals include rodents and rabbits. They also eat insects, berries, carrion (dead and decaying flesh), and garbage.

BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION

Canids live in packs, or social groups, ruled by a male and his partner. They communicate through vocalization, including barks, growls, and howls. They also use body language, such as erecting the fur, to show dominance. Canids mate for life, with the whole pack parenting the young.

CANIDS AND PEOPLE

Many canids are hunted for their fur. Humans have always felt threatened by certain canids, such as wolves and foxes. Canids sometimes prey on pets and livestock.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The United States lists the red wolf as Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, because of habitat loss due to deforestation and hunting. The IUCN classifies the African hunting wolf and the Ethiopian wolf as Endangered because of habitat loss resulting from human settlement and killing.