Canis lupus dingo
The dingo's head and body length is 46.06 to 48.8 inches, and its tail length is 11.8 to 12.9 inches. Their shoulder height is about 19.68 inches with a weight of 22 to 44 pounds. They are usually tawny yellow in color, but some individuals are white, black, brown, rust, or other shades. The feet and the tip of the tail are often white.
The dingo can be distinguished from other forms of canines by its longer muzzle, more massive molariform teeth, and longer, more slender canine teeth.
The oldest definitely known fossils of the dingo date from about 3,500 years ago, but other remains may be as old as 8,600 years. Humans arrived in Australia at least 30,000 years ago. The dingo evidently was brought in long afterward, but before true domestication had been achieved, and it was able to establish wild populations. There are also wild dog populations in New Guinea and Timor which are related to the dingo group.
Class: Mammal (Mammalia)
Habitat: Deserts and grasslands of central Australia
Lifespan: Up to 15 years
Wild Diet: Mostly small mammals; occasional kangaroos, cattle or sheep
Zoo Diet: Dog food, bones, chunk meat
Most activity seems to be nocturnal. Daily movements average about 10 to 20 km. On the average, individuals are active for 15.25 hours and at rest for 8.75 hours each day. The dingo is basically solitary, but individuals in a given area form a loose, amicable association and sometimes come together. Fighting may develop among members of different groups. Although not particularly vocal, the dingo has a variety of sounds. Howls, probably meant to locate others from its group and repel intruders, are frequently heard during the annual breeding season. Although regularly captured and tamed by natives and other people of Australia, the dingo has never been successfully domesticated.
In the wild, pups are born in late winter and spring. Yearlings may assist an older pair to raise their pups. Independence is generally achieved by 3 to 4 months, but the young animals often then associate with a mature male.
Gestation: 63 days
Litter: One to eight; usually four to five
- A fence more than 6,000 miles long has been constructed in eastern Australia in an effort to keep dingoes off of sheep ranges. Scientists, however, claim that sheep predation has been greatly exaggerated.
- Human persecution has caused a decline in dingo population, but another serious problem is hybridization with the domestic dog, which is spreading with human development.