|Short-eared dog range|
The short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis), also known as the short-eared fox, short-eared zorro or small-eared dog, is a unique and elusive canid species endemic to the Amazonian basin. This is the only species assigned to the genus Atelocynus.
It has many names in the indigenous languages where it is endemic, such as: cachorro-do-mato-de-orelha-curta in Portuguese, zorro de oreja corta in Spanish, nomensarixi in the Chiquitano language, and uálaca in Yucuna. Other names in Spanish are zorro ojizarco, zorro sabanero, zorro negro.
Evolution and systematics
The short-eared dog's history is similar to that of the other carnivorans and many of the other terrestrial placental mammals of South America. After the formation of the Isthmus of Panama in the latter part the Tertiary (about 2.5 million years ago in the Pliocene), dogs migrated from North America to the southern continent as part of the Great American Interchange. The short-eared dog's ancestors adapted to life in tropical rainforests, developing the requisite morphological and anatomical features. Apart from its superficial resemblance to the bush dog, the short-eared dog seems not to be closely related to any fox-like or wolf-like canid (R. Burton; International Wildlife Encyclopedia, 2002). It is one of the most unusual canids. The latest systematics classifies it as a species in the tribe Canini, and its closest extant relative is probably the distant taxon, the Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous) (Pietrzak, 2007). It has 74 chromosomes (2 x 36 autosomes + one pair of sex chromosomes).
Two subspecies of this canid are recognized:
- Atelocynus microtis microtis
- Atelocynus microtis sclateri
Occurrence and environment
The short-eared dog can be found in the Amazon rainforest region of South America (in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and possibly Venezuela). It lives in various parts of the rainforest environment, preferring areas with little human disturbance. It lives in both lowland forests known as Selva Amazónica and terra firme forest, as well as in swamp forest, stands of bamboo, and cloud forest.
The short-eared dog has short and slender limbs with short and rounded ears. The short-eared dog has a distinctive fox-like muzzle and bushy tail. It ranges from dark to reddish-grey, but can also be nearly navy blue, coffee brown, dark grey or chestnut-grey until to black, and the coat is short, with thick and bristly fur. Its paws are partly webbed, owing to its partly aquatic habitat.
It moves with feline lightness unparalleled among the other canids. It has a somewhat narrow chest, with dark color variation on thorax merging to brighter, more reddish tones on the abdominal side of the body. This species possesses a large elongated head and long canine teeth, protruding even when its muzzle is closed. Its back often has a dark streak, while a brighter stain is on its tail. Like nearly all canids, it has 42 teeth.
Typical height at the shoulder is 25–30 cm. Its head and body length is about 100 cm, with a tail of about 30–35 cm. It weighs about 9–10 kg.
This wild dog is mainly a carnivore, with fish, insects, and small mammals making up the majority of its diet. An investigation led in Cocha Cashu Biological Station in Peru into the proportions of different kinds of food in this animal's diet produced the following results: fish 28%, insects 17%, small mammals 13%, various fruits 10%, birds 10%, crabs 10%, frogs 4%, reptiles 3%.
Reproduction and behavior
This species has some unique behaviors not typical to other canids. Females of this species are about almost 1/3 larger than males. The excited male sprays a musk produced by the tail glands. It prefers a solitary lifestyle, in forest areas. It avoids humans in the natural environment. Agitated males will raise the hairs on their backs.
Threats, survival and ecological concerns
Feral dogs pose a prominent threat to the population of short-eared dogs, as they facilitate the spread of diseases such as canine distemper and rabies to the wild population. Humans also contribute to the extermination of the short-eared dog via degradation of the species' natural habitat and the destruction of tropical rainforests. Scientists still have little knowledge of its biology.
Status of conservation
Two subspecies are recognized:
|Wikispecies has information related to: Atelocynus|
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Leite-Pitman, M.R.P. & Williams, R.S.R. (2011). "Atelocynus microtis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 January 2012. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as near threatened.
- ADW: Atelocynus microtis: Information
- Lioncrusher's Domain - Small Eared Zorro (Atelocynus microtis) facts and pictures
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2009)|
- M.R.P Leite Pitman and R.S.R. Williams. Short-eared dog;Atelocynus microtis (Sclater, 1883).C-S. Zubiri, M. Hoffmann and D. W. Macdonald. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs - 2004 Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN Publications Services Unit, 219c Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, United Kingdom, 2004.
- Alderton, David. Foxes, Wolves and Wild Dogs of the World. Blandford Press: United Kingdom, 1998.
- Nowak, Ronald. Walker's Carnivores of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 2005.
- IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group: Small Eared Zorro
- Ecology and conservation of the short-eared dog by WildCru
- Studies with a tame short-eared dog by Maria Renata Leite
- Atelocynus microtis Research and Conservation by M. R. Pitman Leite
- PHOTOS: Short-Eared Dog Caught in Camera Trap
- Short-eared Dog video by Wink Gross on YouTube