The Maned Wolf is a South American canine that is a unique species in the sense that, it is not closely related to any other living canid, and is the only species of its genus Chrysocyon (translating to ‘golden dog’ in Latin). Interestingly enough, despite its common name, the ‘maned wolf’ is neither a wolf, nor a dog, nor is it a fox (in spite of its confusing similarity and color pattern with the red fox). They inhabit the Cerrado region – the largest biome of South America. At present, the population of these mammals is almost threatened.
Size: Adult specimens stand at around 90 cm (35 in) at the shoulder, while the head-to-body length is around 100 cm (39 in).
Weight: An average full-grown maned wolf weighs around 23 kg (51 lb).
Fur/hair/coat: The entire body is covered with long, copper-orange to tan hairy coat, with the throat region having a white ‘bib’, and the tail-tip being white as well.
Head: Broad-headed, with a wide skull, and a long, dark muzzle that is shiny towards the tip (nostrils).
Feet: All four feet are long in proportion to its body.
Eyes: Long, almond-shaped eyes that look dark from a distance.
Ears: Large and long ears, about 7 inches in length, and are rounded rather than forming an angle at the tips.
Tail: A long, hairy/bushy tail hangs downwards, and is around 45 cm (18 in) in length.
Teeth: Dentition is similar to that of other canids, including dogs, foxes, wolves, coyotes, etc., with lines of sharp teeth including two pairs of long canines.
Sexual Dimorphism: There is very little or no visible differences between the sexes, with the males being slightly taller and larger than the females.
The longevity of maned wolves in the wild is unknown. In human care, median life expectancy is 6.5 years with a maximum of 12 to 15 years.
Maned wolves are found through central and eastern regions of South America, including South and Central Brazil, northern Argentina, southern Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia.
Maned wolves prefer both wet and dry forests, grasslands with tall grasses, savannas, wetlands, and marshes.
Maned Wolf Height
Maned Wolf Habitat
Classification of Species
Currently, no subspecies of the maned wolf has been described by the biologists.
Maned wolves are shy creatures and seldom show up. These animals are primarily nocturnal and would hunt at night especially during the hours of dawn and dusk, spending the day hours usually by resting in areas covered with thick bush and wild vegetation.
The maned wolves are mostly solitary creatures, except during the mating season. They are chance predators, and would even go to the extent of stealing a chicken from farms, which is a common incident in the human habitats within their range.
These canids are also territorial, with the average distance of each territory being 27 sq. km. They mark their areas with feces and strong-smelling urine, usually in higher places like termite mounds, hillocks, etc. along the boundaries of their territories.
Sounds & Calls
Maned wolves emit calls but never howl as wolves or hyenas do in order to communicate. Rather, they give out loud bark-like sounds, or roar barks, in order to communicate with their mates, letting each other know where they are, or else, to warn other maned wolves to stay away from their territories.
Maned Wolf Animals
Maned Wolf Images
This species is omnivorous. Research shows that the diet list of the mane wolf is made up of more than 50% plant matter, including sugarcane, tubers, and fruit (especially wolf apple). Among the animals, they consume rabbits, cuis (wild guinea pigs), and young viscachas (a species of burrowing rodents), as well as agoutis, pacas, insects, reptiles and even birds.
Mating & Reproduction
Because of their shy nature, most information about their reproduction came from the study of pet specimens, under human care, or those in the zoo. The animals are mostly monogamous. The female maned wolves enter their estrus cycle only once a year, which continues for about five days.
While the peak time of their breeding in the wild falls between April and June, the males of the species produce sperm as usual, like other mammals>canids. During this season, both means of individual interaction – scent marking and vocalizations – increase dramatically.
Several research have shown that these mammals give birth to 1-5 puppies in a litter, with the average number of pups being 2.5, after a gestation period of around 65 days.
Maned Wolf Pup
Maned Wolf Pet
Life Cycle of the Maned Wolf Pups
The mother maned wolves shoulder the responsibility of raising the juveniles; however, there are several evidences of the father fetching and providing food to their babies both in the wild, as also, in the zoo.
The newborn young ones are nursed for about four weeks. During this period, the mother introduces the baby maned wolves with regurgitated food. The babies generally leave the territory of their parents and become independent when they are about one year old.
Maned wolves have the ability to rotate their ears to listen to the movements of their prey in the grass, as also, of any approaching danger.
As a behavioral adaptation, the animal knows the trick to tap the ground (using one of their front feet) to flush out their prey from their burrows in order to catch them.
The legs of the animal are long enough to help them move through the bushes at ease, as well as, to see above the tall vegetation within their habitat.
Maned wolves have the inborn agility to catch their prey, like birds and insects, mid-air, leaping up directly from the ground.
Maned Wolf Skull
Maned Wolf Photos
Predators & Enemies
There are no natural predators of the maned wolf; however, many specimens are hunt down or killed by the locals either for fur, or for trespassing inside their farm (stealing crops, or livestock like chicken).
Relationship with Humans and Other Species
As mentioned, because of their shy behavior, they avoid human contact, and hence, are not dangerous or directly threatening to humans. They would only bite or attack if threatened.
At present, domesticated and feral dogs also pass on diseases to these creatures and are known to even attack or kill them in some cases.
These wild animals are threatened mostly by habitat loss, as well as, frequent incidents of being run over by automobiles.
Current Population & Conservation Status
With only around 17,000 adult individuals being left in the wild, the IUCN 3.1 has declared the species as ‘NT’ (Near Threatened).
The Maned Wolf
Red Maned Wolf
The urine of the maned wolf typically smells like skunks.
At present, the Brazilian government has officially declared them as a protected species, and killing them in Brazil is a punishable offense.
Apart from a few other fox and jackal species that rarely consume some plant matters, the mane wolf is the only canid that is naturally and largely omnivorous, regularly consuming fruits and vegetables.
Because of their red fox-like fur pattern and coloration, the maned wolf is also described as a ‘fox on stilts’.