African Painted Dog
Animal Class: Mammals
Height: 24 – 30 inches
Length: 30 – 44 inches
Weight: 40 – 80 pounds
Lifespan: up to 10 years in the wild; longer in captivity
Diet: Wild: antelope, impala, wildebeest, zebra, springbok, and gazelle
Habitat: The African painted dog’s ideal habitat is open woodlands, savannah, plains and desert. They can be found in fragmented parts of Africa, including Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and the Transvaal.
The African painted dog is a medium-sized canid with a thin body, long muscular legs and bushy tail. Its coat is short and sparse, and marked with brown, red, yellow, black and white over a dark skin. Its scientific name means “painted wolf,” acquired due to the mottled fur colors. Ears are large, erect and mobile; muzzle is black. Males may be slightly larger than females.
Ability to run at 30 mph for long distances to drop its prey by exhaustion; cooperative hunting to catch large game; keen eyesight, hearing and smell; also will store or “cache” food for later consumption but will never scavenge.
African painted dogs live in social packs of up to 40 members. Each sex has its own hierarchy that determines breeding and feeding privileges, with an alpha male and female dominating daily life. Females tend to migrate to join other packs, but males generally do not leave the family unit. Unlike wolves, this canid is rarely aggressive and fighting between pack members is rare. All pack members cooperate in feeding the pups, and will also regurgitate food for old, sick or injured dogs that could not join the hunt. Intensely gregarious, they will sleep close together and maintain physical contact with each other. Human extermination, disease, and loss of habitat has limited the wild dog’s range and reduced numbers to less than 5,000. Predation by lions, hyenas and crocodiles also limits the areas where it can survive.