The extraordinary nature of this animal is striking in its stamina, it is decisive and smart, dexterous and friendly, dangerous and cunning. It’s a social animal — family is the main value for her. It’s about a predator that lives in African countries, and knows how to survive, despite the wild conditions of its habitat. This is a hyena dog.
Origin of the species and description
They belong to the canine family, a genus of hyena-like dogs. Their lifespan in the wild is on average 8-10 years, but in captivity they can live longer. The hyena-shaped dog, or as it is also called the “motley wolf” in another way, because of the unusual coloring, is the second largest representative of the wild, after wolves. Genus — monotypic. The red wolf is considered the closest and only generic relative.
There are several subspecies of this hyena-like dog in the world:
- the smallest species, the Sahelian subspecies – Chad;
the most “variegated” subspecies from Mozambique;
- subspecies from West Africa – Togo;
- western continent — subspecies;
- shore wolf on the Mozambique coast.
Only the last two subspecies have survived in our century. We will talk about them in more detail below.
Appearance and features
Representatives of this family are small in size, smaller than wolves. And even somewhat reminiscent of domestic dogs and hyenas. Carnivorous predator, with a short dark mouth. They have a powerful jaw. This breed boasts the largest molars of any species in this family, as they help to gnaw through powerful bones.
Large oval ears that promote cooling and clearly pick up sound signals. During the hunt, members of the pack are often out of sight of each other. Therefore, they simply need to maintain acoustic communication with the help of the “hoo” sounds, which can be heard at a distance of up to 2 km.
Video: Hyena dog
Long strong legs with four toes. Due to the peculiarity of the structure, the fifth toe on the front paw is lost. Spotted color combines black, white and yellow. The hair on the skin is coarse and sparse, as if it is in constant shedding. But thanks to the variegated color on her coat, she can hunt animals. Knocking down the prey, which seems that not one, but several dogs are running after it. Also, the coloring helps to recognize each other in the flock.
It seems to us that they are all the same, but for them “specks” are a distinctive sign. The physique is strong. During the hunt, a pack of dogs has to overcome huge distances. Body length up to approximately 1 meter, weight varies (from 16 to 38 kg), at the withers – from 80-146 cm. Males are slightly larger than females.
Where does the hyena live? dog?
The canine family lives in areas from Africa to forested areas in the mountains.
And also in places such as:
In the past, the habitats had more extensive borders, but the population of these animals has declined today. They can be found in places untouched by man or where the territory is protected by the state — in national parks-reserves.
The range is severely broken, so they have very poor genetic diversity. The habitat area is about 2 km2. Wild representatives of African places do not leave their native places, so you will not meet them in Europe or Russia.
What does a hyena dog eat?
The predator feeds on animals of all types of herbivores. It can be rabbits, bison, gazelles, antelopes, ostriches and others. They are agile hunters of medium-sized antelopes. Parents pass on the skill of hunting animals to their children from generation to generation. In South Africa, antelopes make up up to 90% of the diet of hyena dogs, the remaining 10% comes from other animal species. It happens that some packs hunt prey that other packs ignore. They never eat carrion.
In the Serengeti, several packs of hyena dogs hunted only zebras, and in the north of Botswana they hunted warthogs and ostriches.
They are natural runners, fast, agile and always hunt according to plan, so in 90% of cases she comes out lucky. A flock gathers on a “safari” always in the early morning. If the hunt attempt fails — maybe in the evening. During the day, the sun is too hot, during this period they hide from the scorching rays of the sun. Prey can be found anywhere. When hunting, they raise their white tails to see each other.
When the prey is caught, the hunters first fatten themselves. They never throw themselves at each other during the meal, do not fight and do not share food among themselves. Everything goes quite peacefully and harmlessly. This is a big difference from other representatives of predators.
They swallow as much meat as possible, and only then feed their babies and “nannies”. And the feeding process goes like this: they burp already processed meat for babies. After all, babies who have already left their minks for a month can eat just such food and, of course, mother’s milk.
Character and lifestyle features
One of the main features of these animals is their peaceful coexistence. They do not have fights among themselves for leadership in the pack. Rather, on the contrary, they support and help each other out. Strong individuals try to protect the weak, and those who cannot feed themselves.
Leadership in the pack is always possessed by stronger males and females, and the rest dutifully follow this law. This fact is very interesting – how males and females communicate using sounds. Each occasion has its own special sound. If this is a danger, they seem to chirp, and if they go hunting, they emit a combat “ho-ho”, they can also call each other if they are lost.
A strong-willed character is sometimes surprising. They go hunting only in the early morning, if it turned out to be unsuccessful, they can try again in the evening, but not at night. At night, the pack usually likes to sleep.
They can chase prey for an hour while hunting. Their speed — reaches 60 km/h. Animals rely on sight to hunt, so if they lose sight of their prey, they stop hunting.
When there is no need to hunt, they will definitely play. For them, family is the most important thing. This is an extremely social animal. The pack is everything to her. Family games are very important for kids. With the help of them, the kids in the flock learn to hunt in the future. This is a very important moment in their not yet adult life.
There are also sad moments in the life of a pack of hyena dogs. If the leader dies, the pack breaks up. The young have to create or look for a new clan, and the female goes in search of a new partner to create a family.
Social structure and reproduction
Like many animals, hyena-like representatives breed in separate pairs. They do not have a special mating season, but still fall in early spring — period March-July. But offspring may appear in December. Females bear offspring on average 2 – 2.5 months. One brood has 6-10 puppies, but it happens that it can bring a brood of up to 20 puppies, but this is rare.
Females hide in artisanal minks, which are located near watering places. You can find a place where there are colonies with such minks. But more often in a flock one pair of male and female breeds. During this period, it is better not to disturb the females, protecting their pregnancy, she is aggressive, and in every possible way tries to protect herself from the dangers of the outside world.
Babies are born deaf and blind. Their eyes open after 3 weeks. The female wild dog, being a responsible mother, watches and guards the cubs in the hole for another month. They breastfeed for approximately two months. As soon as the puppy begins to go free, all members of the pack become responsible for feeding the regurgitated meat. Given the fact that the meat has already been processed by the adult parent, the cubs can easily digest such food at an early age.
By the age of 5 months, the puppies take turns, and sometimes the whole brood, follow the adults to hunt. If young puppies are not participating in the hunt, then adult dogs may come back for them to call them for a meal. They bring the young to the prey immediately after it has been killed. They allow you to eat your fill, and only then do mom and dad eat. And what remains is eaten up by the rest of the clan. Adult puppies are considered to be 1.5 years old.
Natural enemies of the hyena dog
Like any other animal of the wild fauna, this friendly dog has its enemies. Even the similarity in the names of these breeds does not give them the right not only to be friends, but they are not even similar in relationship — hyena. Hyenas on their way is the eternal conflict of the entire life path of this breed. Insidious scavengers constantly select the extracted food. After all, hyena-like dogs are born hunters and deftly get food by hunting animals. The hyena is inferior to them in this, so they can only clean up food.
They are vulnerable to cheetahs and lions. Unfortunately, the number of flocks of hyena dogs is also declining through their fault, as they appear in the food chain of predators. The cat family are ruthless hunters, and without hesitation, they kill. And if they come across hyena-like flocks, they catch everyone in a row without a drop of pity. This is due to the fact that dogs often frighten away animals that are hunted by lions.
Humans can also be classified as enemies. If we take the fact that dogs are hunters, and they hunt not only in their habitat, but can also attack agricultural land, then they will not be able to avoid conflict. Especially often conflicts can arise between predators and farmers. Now wild dogs are preserved mainly in protected areas and protected areas, which prevents poaching.
Population and species status
In recent times large families of canids could be found in habitats. But their numbers are only decreasing over the years. The group, if earlier there could be up to 100 units of animals, now the clan includes up to 20-30 dogs, including young animals. Their population is decreasing every year.
The most basic reasons that provoked the extinction of these animals — habitat degradation and infectious diseases. As well as uncontrolled mass shooting by poachers. Infectious diseases also lead to a reduction in the population: rabies; anthrax, epizootic diseases. They infect domestic animals with these diseases, which also leads to their shooting with impunity.
With bitterness, we can say that the population today has no more than 5 thousand individuals. In North Africa, these predators are also few in number, and in West Africa they are very rare at all. They inhabit the range selectively. They are found in central Africa and Cameroon. The exception is — the entire territory of Senegal where hyena dogs are under state protection.
Hyena dog protection
People have long drawn attention to the fact that the population of these unusual animals is declining at a rapid pace. This small species of African predator is under the threat of complete extinction. Therefore, today the hyena dog is included in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and is under state protection in some countries.
The hyena dog has an unsurpassed skill in cunning hunting. The coherence of their actions can be envied even by a well-trained pack of hunting dogs. They are inherently sacrificial: even a starving individual will not touch the food until the little puppies eat, because those are the rules. They do not pose a threat to humans. If you watch an animal in the wild, we will see cute puppies, caring parents and responsible leaders from whom a person can still learn.