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African Wild Dog

Lycaon pictus

African wild dogs are intelligent and cooperative hunters. Some of the dogs run close to the prey while the others fall behind. They then take over when the front members tire.

The African wild dog is long-legged, with massive jaws and very large, erect batlike ears. Although it resembles some domestic dogs, it differs in that it has four toes on each foot instead of five. The Latin name for the African wild dog means “painted wolf,” which aptly describes the colorful coat of dark brown, black and yellow patches. Wild dogs have bushy tails with white tips that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting.

Unlike many other species, once they reach maturity it is the males that stay within their natal pack while females migrate and join new packs.

The African wild dogs diet is carnivor/forager. They usually hunt in the early morning and again in late evening, prettying on gazelles and other antelopes, warthogs, wildebeests, calves and rat and birds. They may raid domestic stock, but as wild dogs seldom stay in one place for long, this damage is not extensive. In East Africa, its most common prey is Thomson's gazelle, while in Central and Southern Africa it targets impala, reedbuck, kob, lechwe, and springbok. Its diet is not restricted to these animals though, as it will also hunt , oribi, duiker, waterbuck, Grant's gazelle, zebra, bushbuck, ostrich, African buffalo (especially calves), and smaller prey like dik-dik, hares, spring hares and cane rats.

The African wild dog is mostly found in savanna and arid zones, generally avoiding forested areas. This preference is likely linked to the animal's hunting habits, which require open areas which do not obstruct vision or impede pursuit. Nevertheless, it will travel through scrub, woodland and montane areas in pursuit of prey. However, forest-dwelling populations of African wild dogs have been identified, including one in the Harenna Forest. There is at least one record of a pack being sighted on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. In Zimbabwe, the species has been recorded at altitudes of 1,800 meters. The wild dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. The largest populations remain in southern Africa and the southern part of East Africa (especially Tanzania and northern Mozambique). Wild dogs are social and gather in packs of around ten individuals, but some packs number more than 40.

Major threats to the survival of wild dogs include accidental and targeted killings by humans, viral diseases like rabies and distemper, habitat loss and competition with larger predators like lions. Conflicts occur when wild dogs come in contact with people whose livelihoods rest largely on livestock and agriculture. Problems arise when expanding human activities decrease the habitat for available prey for wild dogs.

The African wild dog should be placed in a large heavily fenced area if held in captivity. Place it in groups of 10 because African wild dogs travel in those groups. Make sure to provide a desert style area for the African wild dog. It should be warm, humid and spacious. Provide the African wild dog with water, food to eat and maybe even a couple of balls to play with. Space is essential for the African wild dog because it is a wild animal and it will take time being in captivity. They are vicious and violent so there should be a very thick fence around it and it should be high. Provide meat because they are carnivores. Also provide grasslands and water holes.

Physical Description

Diet (Wild)

Habitat (Where its found)


How they should be held in captivity


The entire African wild dog pack shares responsibility for protecting the cubs, with both males and females babysitting the young.


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