Hyenas and Wild Dogs
Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) may look like a dog but are more closely related to cats. They can weigh up to almost 200 pounds and have a life span of about 25 years. They are both hunters and scavengers but they much prefer to steal the kills from other animals, especially Cheetahs and including lions, if they can outnumber them by a healthy margin. Their normal prey include wildebeest and antelope but will take birds, lizards, snakes, and insects.
There are three species of Hyenas - Spotted, Brown and Striped. Spotted Hyenas are the largest of the three and they live in a large clan, headed by a alpha female. Hyena society is matriachical and can have dozens of members.
Spotted hyenas are strong animals, built for long distance running in pursuit of prey. The females are bigger than males. They have excellent eyesight and hearing, especially in the evening hours. They are rather vocal and usually make a 'laughing' sound when excited.
The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is an endangered species. There are only a few thousand left in the whole African continent. They can weigh up to 70 pounds and live about 10 years. African wild dogs have long-legged, massive jaws and large, erect batlike ears. Although related to domesticated dogs, it has only four toes instead of five on each foot.
The savanna and woodland are the usual habitats for Wild dogs but they have no territory and travel where they can find prey. They live in packs of up to two dozen individuals and are extremely efficent hunters. Their kill ratio is the highest of any large African carnivore.
Wild dogs are social animals and have a hierarchy but not usually rigidly enforced. They have elaborate greeting and hunting rituals, accompanied by twittering and whining.
Dholes or Asian wild dogs (Cuon alpinus) are found in Central, South and South East Asia. They can weigh up to about 45 pounds and stand about 20 inches at the shoulder. They have large round ears, a reddish color coat with white on their belly, chest and paws plus a long, bushy tail.
Asian wild dogs live in large packs of up to two dozen or so animals and inhabit many types of forests and grassland, including desert region. Their prey are usually deer and small mammals, although in rare cases, large packs have been known to kill even young or old tigers in India.
They are excellent swimmers and can even pursue prey into the water. Sadly, Asian wild dogs are highly endangered and is listed on the IUCN Red List. All wild dogs are susceptible to number of diseases like rabies and distemper, when they get into contact with domestic or feral dogs.
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