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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 9:33 EDT

Bush Dog

The bush dog (Speothos venaticus) is a canid found in Central and South America, including Panama, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru (West of the Andes), Ecuador, the Guianas, Paraguay, northeast Argentina (Misiones province), and Brazil. In spite of its extensive range, it is very rare. It was originally discovered as fossils in Brazilian caves and thought to be extinct. It is the only species in its genus, Speothos.

The Bush Dog has soft long brownish-tan fur. It has a lighter reddish tinge on the head, neck and back. It also has a bushy tail. The underside is dark, sometimes with a lighter throat patch. Adults typically have 21.64 to 29.53 in (55 to 75 cm) of head and body, plus 5.12 in (13 cm) of tail. They weigh around 11.02 to 15.43 lb (5 to 7 kg). Legs and snout are short relative to body length. The typical height is only 9.84 to 11.81 in (25 to 30 cm).

It is a carnivore and hunts during the day, preferably in wet savannahs and tropical and equatorial forests. Its typical prey is the Paca, a large rodent. Although it can hunt alone on occasion, the bush dog is usually found in small packs of up to 10 to 12 individuals. They can bring down much larger prey. It may be the most gregarious among South American canid species. It is a good swimmer because of the webbed feet. It uses hollow logs and cavities for shelter.

The pregnancy period is 63 days, and a litter can have up to six dark grey pups. Lactation lasts approximately 8 weeks. The bush dog is sexually mature at 1 year and lives for about 10 years.

Bush Dog