Short eared dog

This unique and elusive dog is endemic to the Amazon basin

Igor de le Vingne

Also known as the Short-eared fox or Small-eared zorro, it is an enigmatic and elusive species native to the Amazon rainforest of South America. This unique canine, with its near-threatened status, navigates the complexities of survival amidst the challenges of habitat destruction and disease transmission from domestic dogs. Characterized by its distinct physical adaptations and solitary nature, the short-eared dog represents a fascinating yet vulnerable component of the Amazonian ecosystem.

The short-eared dog’s appearance is quite distinctive among canids, with its dark, sleek fur ranging from dark grey to nearly black and, as the name suggests, notably short ears. One of its most remarkable adaptations is its partially webbed feet, a trait that enables this species to excel in swimming, reflecting its semi-aquatic lifestyle within the diverse habitats of the Amazon rainforest. This adaptation allows the short-eared dog to pursue a range of prey in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, showcasing its evolutionary response to the challenges of rainforest living.

Solitary by nature, the short-eared dog exhibits a wide range of behaviors that underscore its adaptability to the dense and biodiverse Amazon rainforest. Its omnivorous diet leans heavily towards carnivory, including fishsmall mammalsbirds, and insects, alongside fruits, demonstrating its role as a versatile predator and scavenger within its ecosystem.

With an estimated population of only around 15,000 individuals, the short-eared dog faces significant threats, primarily from habitat destruction due to logging, mining, and agricultural expansion. These activities not only reduce its living space but also fragment its habitat, isolating populations and limiting genetic diversity.

Another critical threat comes from diseases transmitted by domestic dogs, such as rabies and canine distemper. These diseases pose a significant risk to the short-eared dog, against which it has little natural immunity, further endangering its already vulnerable populations.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Bolivia
2011
Brazil
2011
Colombia
2011
Ecuador
2011
Peru
2011

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No