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Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous)

  • Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous)

    Common Name/s:
    Crab-eating Fox  
    Scientific name: Cerdocyon thous
    Brazilian common name/s: Cachorro-do-mato, graxaim-do-mato, raposa

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

    Body length (cm): 66 (57–78)d Tail (cm):  31 (22–41) d Diet: Omnivorous d
    Weight (kg): 5.7 (4.5–8.5) d Height (cm): 37 (33–42) d
    Home range(km2): 4.8–128 a,b,c
    Litter size: 4 (3–6) d Gestation (days): 56 (52–59) d
    Longevity (years): 9 d
    Social structure: Solitary or small groups of 2–5 individuals b
    Activity pattern: Mainly nocturnal crepuscular d

    a (Michalski et al. 2006), b (Macdonald & Courtenay 1996), c (Juarez & Marinho-Filho 2002), d (Courtenay & Maffei 2004)

    Physical description
    Is the best known of the Brazilian canids. Crab-eating foxes have a variable coloration, exhibiting a mixture of shades of gray and brown, often with yellowish tones. The ears are short with red tones. The tail is relatively long with long hairs tending to a black colouring.

    Habitat and Ecology
    It is distributed widely across South America (excluding the Amazon basin), from northern Columbia down as far as northern Argentina. It’s range spans coastal to mountainous regions (up to 3000 meters) and these foxes commonly inhabit open areas, fields and savannah forests. It is a territorial animal and can be seen in groups comprising a monogamous pair of adults and 1-5 young. It is usually a solitary hunter and has only rarely been recorded as hunting in pairs (Brady 1979).
    Their omnivorous diet varies depending on the season and habitat type but generally includes a large proportion of fruits and small mammals but also consists of arthropods, birds, reptiles and amphibians (Bueno & Motta 2004; Facure & Monteiro-Filho 1996; Facure et al. 2003; Gatti et al. 2006a; Gatti et al. 2006b; Montgomery & Lubin 1978; Pedo et al. 2006; Rocha et al. 2008; Vasconcellos-Neto et al. 2009; Vieira & Port 2007).

    Threats and Conservation
    There is no specific protective legislation for this species in any country and no specific protection measures are required at present. The main potential threat is from diseases transmitted by domestic dogs. In the Serra da Canastra National Park, Brazil, Crab-eating Foxes raid human refuse dumps in close company with unvaccinated domestic dogs along park boundaries (R. Cunha de Paula pers. comm.).

    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

    Brady, C. A. (1979). Observations on the behavior and ecology of the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous). In J. F. Eisenberg (Ed.), Studies  of  vertebrate zoology  in  the  northern neotropics (pp. 161-171). Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press.

    Bueno, A. D., & Motta, J. C. (2004). Food habits of two syntopic canids, the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) and the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), in southeastern Brazil. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 77, 5-14.

    Courtenay, O., & Maffei, L. (2004). Crab-eating fox Cerdocyon thous (Linnaeus, 1766). In C. Sillero-Zubiri, M. Hoffmann & D. W. Macdonald (Eds.), Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan (pp. ). Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK:  IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group.

    Facure, K. G., & Monteiro-Filho, E. L. A. (1996). Feeding habits of the crab-eating fox, Cerdocyon thous (Carnivora, Canidae), in a suburban area of southeastern Brazil. Mammalia, 60, 147-149.

    Facure, K. G., Giaretta, A. A., & Monteiro-Filho, E. L. A. (2003). Food habits of the crab-eating-fox, Cerdocyon thous, in an altitudinal forest of the Mantiqueira Range, southeastern Brazil. Mammalia, 67, 503-511.

    Gatti, A., Bianchi, R., Rosa, C. R. X., & Mendes, S. L. (2006b). Diet of two sympatric carnivores, Cerdocyon thous and Procyon cancrivorus, in a restinga area of Espirito Santo State, Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 22, 227-230.

    Gatti, A., Bianchi, R., Rosa, C. R. X., & Mendes, S. L. (2006a). Diet of the crab-eating fox, Cerdocyon thous (Carnivora, Canidae) in Paulo Cesar Vinha State Park, Espirito Santo State, Brazil. Mammalia, 70, 153-155.

    Juarez, K. M., & Marinho-Filho, J. (2002). Diet, habitat use, and home ranges of sympatric canids in Central Brazil. Journal of Mammalogy, 83, 925-933.
    Macdonald, D. W., & Courtenay, O. (1996). Enduring social relationships in a population of crab-eating zorros, Cerdocyon thous, in Amazonian Brazil (Carnivora, Canidae). Journal of Zoology, 239, 329-355.

    Michalski, F., Crawshaw, P. G., de Oliveira, T. G., & Fabian, M. E. (2006). Notes on home range and habitat use of three small carnivore species in a disturbed vegetation mosaic of southeastern Brazil. Mammalia, 70, 52-57.

    Montgomery, G. G., & Lubin, Y. D. (1978). Social structure and food habits of crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) in venezuelan llanos. Acta Cientifica Venezolana, 29, 382-383.

    Pedo, E., Tomazzoni, A. C., Hartz, S. M., & Christoff, A. U. (2006). Diet of crab-eating fox, Cerdocyon thous (Linnaeus) (Carnivora, Canidae), in a suburban area of southern Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, 23, 637-641.

    Rocha, V. J., Aguiar, L. M., Silva-Pereira, J. E., Moro-Rios, R. F., & Passo, F. C. (2008). Feeding habits of the crab-eating fox, Cerdocyon thous (Carnivora: Canidae), in a mosaic area with native and exotic vegetation in Southern Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, 25, 594-600.

    Vasconcellos-Neto, J., de Albuquerque, L. B., & Silva, W. R. (2009). Seed dispersal of Solanum thomasiifolium Sendtner (Solanaceae) in the Linhares Forest, Espirito Santo state, Brazil. Acta Botanica Brasilica, 23, 1171-1179.
    Vieira, E. M., & Port, D. (2007). Niche overlap and resource partitioning between two sympatric fox species in southern Brazil. Journal of Zoology, 272, 57-63.


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