Speothos – Bush dog

First discovered as a fossil in Brazil, before ever witnessed – it was believed to be extinct!

Often elusive and shrouded in mystery, this species is one of the lesser-known members of the Canidae family, distinguished by its unique physical characteristics and social behaviors. Despite its canine affiliation, the bush dog exhibits several mustelid-like features, including a squat body and adaptability to both terrestrial and aquatic environments, which makes it a fascinating subject of study in the realm of mammalogy.

Bush dogs possess a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other canids. They have short, robust legs and a squat body that gives them a somewhat bear-like appearance. Their fur is dense and reddish-brown, fading into a paler reddish hue on the head, neck, and back, which provides excellent camouflage in the dense vegetation of their habitats. One of the most notable adaptations of the bush dog is their webbed feet, a trait that facilitates their exceptional swimming abilities, allowing them to navigate tropical rivers and wetlands with ease.

The bush dog’s range spans from Central America through much of South America, favoring forested and wetland regions where water is abundant. They are diurnal, meaning they are primarily active during the day, engaging in hunting and social activities and then retreating to dens or hollow logs at night for rest. These dens are often situated near water sources, providing easy access to their aquatic hunting grounds.

Bush dogs are highly social animals, living and hunting in packs that can include up to 12 individuals. This pack structure is crucial for their hunting strategy, which relies on cooperation to corner and capture prey. Their diet mainly consists of small to medium-sized rodents like pacas, acouchis, and agoutis, but they are also capable of taking down larger animals such as capybaras and even rheas when hunting in groups. The pack’s coordination and communication during hunts highlight the bush dog’s intelligence and adaptability.