A wolf on springs?
Unlike many of the Ethiopian wolf’s relatives who work together to tackle large prey, this red furred beauty prefers to hunt alone, dining almost exclusively on a diet of rodents which are skilfully plucked from their grassland burrows.
Oh my, what big ears you have!
The tiny fennec fox may only weigh 1kg, but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in ears! These huge ears are used to dissipate heat in the harsh desert environment where the fennec fox resides, and they come in pretty handy when tracking down prey too.
Is it a badger? Is it an otter? Is it a mongoose? No, it’s a….
Bush dog! You could certainly be forgiven for getting this unusual canid confused with a number of other species, with its short legs, long body and webbed feet! Little is known about this elusive species, which lives a semi-aquatic life in the forests of South America.
What a handsome pair
The rather beautiful Dhole is Asia’s answer to the African wild dog, a highly social species which lives and hunts in packs, allowing them to bring down prey ten times their own body weight! And this brings us nicely on to my personal favourite….
The painted wolf – well, sort of!
With each individual having its own unique markings, it is no surprise that this canid’s bold coat pattern has led to a whole host of colourful common names. While the African wild dog’s scientific name Lycaon pictus means ‘painted wolf-like animal’ in Greek, it is also referred to as the painted wolf, the painted hunting dog, the spotted dog and the ornate wolf.
The legend of zorro
The elusive small-eared zorro is almost as tricky to track down as Don Diego de la Vega himself, so not a great deal is known about this rainforest dwelling dog. It is reported to favour a diet of fish and it’s graceful movement has been likened to that of a feline.
A circumpolar canid
A whole host of arctic adaptations allow this distinctive fox to survive temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius, a pretty impressive feat. In the summer the Arctic fox undergoes a big transformation and sheds its famous white coat in favour of a lighter, brown and grey number. How very fashion conscious!
A fox on stilts
With legs this long, it isn’t hard to see how the maned wolf earned the name “fox on stilts”! At almost a metre tall, the height of this species is thought to be an adaptation to help it see over the tall grasses of its habitat. While the black mane of this species might not be quite as magnificent as a lion’s, you can’t help but be impressed by those pins!
Honestly, it’s not a racoon!
While it may be hard to believe, the racoon dog is in fact not even closely related to its North American namesake. Raccoon dogs are the only canids known to hibernate in winter, and in Japan they have even been reported to climb trees to forage for fruits and berries.
The iconic grey wolf deserves its place at number one in the countdown, being the largest wild canid and the species from which all domestic dogs are descended. A highly social and intelligent species, it is thought that humans began to domesticate grey wolves tens of thousands of years ago, with the result being the wide range of domestic dog breeds we see today.
So, did your favourite canid make the list or are you more of a cat lover? Get in touch and let us know!
Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher