Except in Antarctica and on a few oceanic islands, wild dogs of different species roam the world. Even in Australia, where marsupials abound, the dingo is found. Scientists believe that the latter descends from half-wild dogs.
Red foxes are the most common wild Canidae. Several species are found in both Americas, Europe and Asia, and parts of Africa. Although fewer in number, wolves also occupy a huge area, stretching from northern America to Eurasia, and still persist in countries as southern as Italy and Spain.
Wild Canids have adapted to a wide variety of habitats. Polar foxes roam the tundra and ice floes of the Far North, while the short-eared wild dog roams the humid Amazon jungles.
Other species live in forests, deserts, savannas, and on the dry slopes of high mountains.
How big are wild Canids?
Wolves are the largest of the wild Canids. A male in his prime weighs up to 60 kg or more, but the average weight is around 50 kg. Most of the other species are much smaller. We consider 25 to 30 kg as a maximum for a coyote and 7 to 8 kg as normal for a red fox. The smallest is the fennec, a small fox from the Sahara and the Arabian deserts: it weighs only 1.5 kg.
Wild Canids are just as different in appearance as they are in size. Some, like the African Lycaon and the South American maned wolf, are slender and have long legs; others, like the Eurasian raccoon dog and the South American Speothos, have stocky bodies and short limbs.
How do wild dogs hunt?
African wolves, dholes, and wild dogs are social animals that live and hunt in packs. By uniting to chase and capture their prey, wolves, for example, can catch and kill animals as large as moose. However, recent studies have shown that members of a wolf pack appreciate the vulnerability of their potential victims and do not risk attacking a healthy adult moose. The majority of their prey are old animals, disabled by disease or any other reason, and young under one-year-old.
The other Canids live alone or in small family groups. Coyotes can live in pairs for several years or remain solitary. But even though they are usually isolated, they sometimes congregate to kill prey that is too large or too fast for a single individual.
Do All Canids Eat Meat?
Just as most domestic dogs like vegetables and other leftovers, the majority of their wild cousins are fine with varying diets. Some, including the African wild dog, dhole, and gray fox, feed almost exclusively on meat, although occasionally they are interested in plants.
Coyotes supplement their diet with berries and other fruits. The maned wolf is even more eclectic: cane sugar, nuts, and any other fruit form an important part of its diet.
The red fox is also opportunistic. Mice and other small rodents make up the bulk of its diet, but in addition, it eats beetles, crickets, and locusts as well as fruits and other plants.
Why do dogs bury bones?
Domestic dogs have retained certain habits of their wild ancestors, such as burying bones, a vestige of the instinct that drove many species to store food. A red fox that has more food than it can eat will dig a hole and bury the excess for another occasion. The arctic fox, which faces much harsher winters than any other Canidae, often hides food in the summer and uses it in the winter.
The pampas fox or Azara (Dusicyon) of South America is the strangest. He collects all kinds of inedible products, from twigs to ends of rags.
Can Canids Climb Trees?
Unlike big cats, most Canids have fairly blunt claws, more suited to running than holding prey or climbing trees, but there are exceptions. The Asian Corsac fox is an agile climber. The same is true of the American Gray Fox, whose claws are sharper and more hooked than those of other Wild Canids. Gray foxes often climb trees to scan the horizon, eat fruit, or escape enemies. It even happens to roost in the branches.
If it finds a prone trunk or a hanging branch that allows it to rise, it climbs quietly, but it can also climb almost vertically by clinging to the trunk of its forelegs and pushing with the hind legs. Once at the top, it jumps from branch to branch.
Are foxes really cunning?
The red fox has long been a symbol of skill and cunning, and in fact, often acts extremely perceptive. Trappers hunting this animal must sterilize their equipment to rid it of human odor, otherwise, the fox will not approach it. He also manages to spot hidden traps and defuse them without getting caught. When hunted by a pack of dogs. He often retraces in his own tracks or runs along fences or overturned logs so that his pursuers no longer feel him. The red fox also lives very well in densely populated areas, including large cities. We even saw foxes going through underground passages instead of crossing a highway.
But on the other hand, the red fox can be extremely reckless; it tends to return to places where it has been often hunted in the past and, when pursued, frequently passes safe hiding places without stopping there, so it is still not known whether it is really smart or no.