African painted dog in exhibit

African Painted Dog

Latin Name

Lycaon pictus

Geographic Range

Sub-Saharan Africa

Diet

Antelopes, Wildebeest
African painted dog in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: ENDANGERED IUCN Conservation Status: ENDANGERED

About This Animal

African painted dogs are canids with large ears named for their mottled coats, which include brown, yellow, red, black, and white patches that provide excellent camouflage. They can get up to 43 inches in size and weigh between 40–79 pounds as adults.

These nomadic wild dogs, which are only distantly related to other canids like wolves, dogs, dingoes, and foxes, are highly social. They live in packs of up to 20 individuals led by a monogamous breeding pair. Packs have complex communication strategies, including diverse vocalizations and ritualized greeting ceremonies.

Dog packs hunt during mornings and early evenings to avoid the heat of day, or overnight if the moon is bright. They can run at speeds of up to 44 miles an hour and have an 80 percent success rate in taking down their prey. Once that’s done, they return to the pack and feed regurgitated food to young and sick dogs, plus others unable to hunt.

Only the alpha pair breeds, and pups are born between March and July after a 60- to 80-day gestation. Litter sizes vary from 2 to 20 pups, averaging about 12. Pups remain in burrows with their mothers for up to four weeks, after which the pack shares responsibility for their care.

African painted dog numbers have been in decline for some time. Historically, they ranged across 39 countries in Africa, but have disappeared from 14 of them. Habitat fragmentation is a major threat, along with climate change. Efforts to conserve this species are ongoing, but more research and work is needed.

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