canid found only in Africa, especially in savannas, lightly wooded areas and along the west African coast. It is variously called the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog,

African Wild dog
220px-Lycaon pictus -Denver Zoo, Colorado, USA-8a






medium-to-large sized ungulates, such as the impala, Thomson's Gazelle, Springbok, kudu, reedbuck, and wildebeest calves

Combat status

Victorious over the Coyote

painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf


The scientific name "Lycaon pictus" is derived from the Greek for "wolf" and the Latin for "painted". It is the only canid species to lack dewclaws on the forelimbs.

Adults typically weigh 18–36 kilograms (40–79 lb).[2][3] A tall, lean animal, it stands about 75 cm (30 in) at the shoulder, with a head and body length of 75–141 cm (30–56 in) plus a tail of 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in). Animals in southern Africa are generally larger than those in eastern or western Africa.

There is little sexual dimorphism, though judging by skeletal dimensions, males are usually 3-7% larger. It has a dental formula of

for a total of 42 teeth. The premolars are relatively large compared with those of other canids, allowing it to consume a large quantity of bone, much like hyenas.[4] The heel of the lower carnassial M1 is crested with a single cusp, which enhances the shearing capacity of teeth and thus the speed at which prey can be consumed. This feature is called trenchant heel and is shared with two other canids: the Asian dhole and the South American bush dog.

The African wild dog has a bite force quotient measured at 142, the highest of any extant mammal of the order Carnivora, although exceeded by the Tasmanian devil a marsupial carnivore.[5] The BFQ is essentially the strength of bite relative to the animal's mass.

The African wild dog may reproduce at any time of year, although mating peaks between March and June during the second half of the rainy season. The copulatory tie characteristic of mating in most canids has been reported to be absent[6] or very brief (less than one minute)[7] in the African wild dog, possibly an adaptation to the prevalence of larger predators in its environment.[8] Litters can contain 2-19 pups, though ~10 is the most common.[9] The time between births is usually 12–14 months, though it can also be as short as 6 months if all of the previous young die. The typical gestation period is approximately 70 days.[10][not in citation given] Pups are usually born in dens dug and abandoned by other animals, such as the Aardvark. Weaning takes place at about 10 weeks. After 3 months, the pups leave the den and begin to run with the pack. At the age of 8–11 months they are able to kill small prey, but depend on the pack kills for most of their food. They do not become proficient hunters until the age of 12–14 months. Wild dogs reach sexual maturity at the age of 12–18 months.

Females will disperse from their birth pack at 14–30 months of age and join other packs that lack sexually mature females. Males typically do not leave the pack in which they were born. This is unusual among social mammals, among which the core pack tends to consist of related females. Among African wild dogs, females compete for access to males that will help rear their offspring. In a typical pack, males outnumber females by a factor of two to one, and only the dominant female is usually able to rear pups. This atypical situation may have evolved to ensure that packs do not over-extend themselves by attempting to rear too many litters at the same time.[11] The species is also unusual in that some members of the pack, including males, may be left to guard the pups whilst the others, including the mothers, join the hunting group. The practice of leaving adults behind to guard the pups may decrease hunting efficiency in smaller packs

Hunting and dietEdit

The African wild dog hunts in packs. Like most members of the dog family, it is a cursorial hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all wild dog hunts end in a kill; for comparison, the success rate of lions, often viewed as ultimate predators, is only 30%. Schaller found that 9 of 10 wild dog hunts in the Serengeti ended in kills.[17] Members of a pack vocalize to help coordinate their movements. Its voice is characterized by an unusual chirping or squeaking sound, similar to a bird. Wild dogs frequently kill larger prey via disemboweling, a technique that is rapid but has caused this species to have a negative, ferocious reputation. For this reason, even some early wildlife conservationists, such as Carl Akeley[18] took pride in killing entire wild dog packs.[19]

After a successful hunt, the hunters will regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt including the dominant female, the pups, the sick or injured, the old and infirm, and those who stayed back to guard the pups.

The African wild dog's main prey varies among populations but always centers around medium-to-large sized ungulates, such as the impala, Thomson's Gazelle, Springbok, kudu, reedbuck, and wildebeest calves. The most frequent single prey species depends upon season and local availability. For example, in the Serengeti in the 1970s wildebeest (mostly calves) were the most frequently taken species (57%) from January to June, but Thompsons gazelle were the most frequently taken (79%) during the rest of the year.[20] In the Selous Game Reserve, the most frequent prey is impala.[21] While the vast majority of its diet is made up of mammal prey, it sometimes hunts large birds, especially Ostriches.[11] Other predators, such as lions, sometimes steal the prey that wild dogs catch.[22]

Some packs are also able to include large animals among their prey, including zebras and warthogs. The frequency and success rates of hunting zebra and warthogs varies widely among specific packs. To hunt larger prey, wild dogs use a closely coordinated attack, beginning with a rapid charge to stampede the herd. One African wild dog then grabs the victim's tail, while another attacks the upper lip or nose, and the remainder attempt to disembowel the animal. Male wild dogs usually perform the task of grabbing warthogs by the nose.[23] This behaviour is also used on other large dangerous prey, such as the African Buffalo, giraffe calves, and large antelope—even the one-ton Giant Eland.

Studies indicate that this large-animal hunting tactic may be a learned behavior, passed on from generation to generation within specific hunting packs, rather than an instinctive behaviour.[citation needed] Some studies have also shown that other information, such as the location of watering holes, may be passed on similarly

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