Chrysocyon – Maned wolf

With an identity of its own, it's neither a wolf nor a fox — however, wearing long ears is probably a fashion statement

It is a captivating figure within the South American grasslands, and its unique appearance and behavior set it apart from other canids. Despite its name, the Maned wolf is not a wolf nor closely related to any other living canid; it’s an evolutionary relic, the only member of its genus, Chrysocyon.

One of the most striking features of the Maned wolf is its long, slender legs, which result from adaptation to its grassland habitat. These legs not only allow the Maned wolf to see over tall grass while hunting but also enable it to cover large distances in search of food. The animal’s reddish-brown fur, accented with black markings on its muzzle, mane, and tail, gives it a fox-like appearance, though genetically, it shares no close ties with foxes. The mane, which stands erect when the animal is threatened or excited, along with its distinctive black legs, contributes to its nickname, “the fox on stilts.”

Contrary to what its fierce appearance might suggest, the Maned wolf is an omnivore with a diet that includes a significant proportion of plant matter. The “wolf” partakes in various fruits and vegetables, with the Solanum lycocarpum fruit, also known as the “wolf apple,” is a particular favorite. This dietary preference plays a crucial role in seed dispersion and the health of its ecosystem. The Maned Wolf also consumes small animals, including rodents, birds, and even frogs and rabbits.

The Maned wolf is a solitary creature, with pairs coming together only during the breeding season. They are crepuscular, most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk, when they hunt and patrol their territory. Their territories are marked using a potent urine that has a distinctive odor reminiscent of hops or cannabis, earning it the nickname “skunk wolf.”