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Bush Dog (Speothos venaticus)

  • Bush Dog (Speothos venaticus)

    Common Name/s: Bush Dog 
    Scientific name: Speothos venaticus
    Brazilian common name/s: Cachorro-vinagre, cachorro-do-mato

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): 63 (58-75)a Tail (cm):  14 (13-15)a Diet: Carnivorous c
    Weight (kg): (5-8)a Height (cm): 20 (20-30)a Home range (km2):  >100b
    Litter size: (1-6) a Gestation (days): 67 a Longevity (years): 
    Social structure: Groups of 2-12 individuals
    Activity pattern: Diurnal

    a (Zuercher et al. 2004), b Dalponte, J (unpublished data), c (Zuercher et al. 2005)

    Physical description
    It has a distinct appearance, having very short rounded ears and short legs and tail. The head and neck have a light brown colouration which becomes darker, turning to dark brown or black along the back and tail.

    Habitat and Ecology
    Although poorly studied, existing data indicates that the species although widely distributed is never abundant (DeMatteo & Loiselle 2008; de Oliveira 2009). There are records of its occurrence from Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, eastern Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Paraguay, north-eastern Argentina and eastern Bolivia.
    It lives in a variety of forest types, and is often found near rivers and may also occur in more disturbed open areas depending on the availability of prey (Silveira et al. 1998; de Oliveira 2009). It is the only Brazilian canid to live and hunt cooperatively (Beisiegel & Zuercher 2005; Kleiman 1972). It displays a preference for daytime activity and groups live in burrows of other species, tree stumps or burrows that they dig themselves.
    Females give birth in a nest built in burrows of other animals (often armadillos) and the male brings food to both the female and pups. Unlike other Brazilian canids, their diet is mainly carnivorous but may also include small amounts of fruit (Zuercher et al. 2005). They feed predominantly on large rodents, especially agoutis, paca, and capybara, small deer and emus (Deutsch 1983; Lima et al. 2009; Peres 1991; Wallace et al. 2002).

    Threats and Conservation
    The species seems to be naturally rare in their region of occurrence and is very susceptible to habitat destruction and diseases transmitted by domestic dogs (de Oliveira 2009). The loss of vegetation causing the decline of prey species has greatly contributed to its disappearance (de Oliveira 2009). Results from Amazonian forest fragments showed that Bush dogs require large forest areas (greater than 10 000 hectares) to have at least a 40% chance of occurring and that they are unlikely to persist outside of continuous forest areas (Michalski & Peres 2005; Michalski 2010). It is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as a vulnerable species and by IBAMA, as threatened with extinction.

    Online links
    IUCN Canid Specialist Group -

    The world"s chief body of scientific and practical expertise on the status and conservation of all canid species

    Canid News –

    Free online peer reviewed publications published by the IUCN Canid Specialist Group

    Beisiegel, B. M., & Zuercher, G. L. (2005). Speothos venaticus. Mammalian Species, , 1-6.

    DeMatteo, K. E., & Loiselle, B. A. (2008). New data on the status and distribution of the bush dog (Speothos venaticus): Evaluating its quality of protection and directing research efforts. Biological Conservation, 141, 2494-2505.

    Deutsch, L. A. (1983). An encounter between bush dog (Speothos venaticus) and paca (Agouti paca). Journal of Mammalogy, 64, 532-533.

    Kleiman, D. G. (1972). Social behavior of the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) and bush dog (Speothos venaticus): a study in contrast. Journal of Mammalogy, , 791-806.

    Lima, E. D., Jorge, R. S. P., & Dalponte, J. C. (2009). Habitat use and diet of bush dogs, Speothos venaticus, in the Northern Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Mammalia, 73, 13-19.

    Michalski, F. (2010). The bush dog Speothos venaticus and short-eared dog Atelocynus microtis in a fragmented landscape in southern Amazonia. Oryx, 44, 300-303.

    Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

    Peres, C. A. (1991). Observations on hunting by small-eared (Atelocynus microtis) and bush dogs (Speothos venaticus) in central-western Amazonia. Mammalia, 55, 635-639.

    Silveira, L., Jacomo, A. T. A., Rodrigues, F. H. G., & Diniz, J. A. F. (1998). Bush dogs (Speothos venaticus), in Emas National Park, Central Brazil. Mammalia, 62, 446-449.

    Wallace, R. B., Painter, R. L. E., & Saldania, A. (2002). An observation of bush dog (Speothos venaticus) hunting behaviour. Mammalia, 66, 309-311.

    Zuercher, G. L., Gipson, P. S., & Carrillo, O. (2005). Diet and habitat associations of bush dogs Speothos venaticus in the Interior Atlantic Forest of eastern Paraguay. Oryx, 39, 86-89.

    Zuercher, G. L., Swarner, M., Silveira, L., & Carrillo, O. (2004). Bush dog (Speothos venaticus: Lund 1842). In C. Sillero-Zubiri, M. Hoffmann & D. W. Macdonald (Eds.), Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan (pp. 76-80). Gland / Cambrigde:  IUCN.

    de Oliveira, T. G. (2009). Distribution, habitat utilization and conservation of the vulnerable bush dog Speothos venaticus in northern Brazil. Oryx, 43, 247-253.


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