Monday, August 12, 2013

The 'Maned Wolf'

Like a fox on stilts...

The maned wolf is a very striking member of the dog family, with its richly colored coat, foxy muzzle and tail, and disproportionately long limbs.  Its long legs enable it to move unhindered through the high grass, and by rearing up on its hind legs, it is able to see a long way to catch sight of approaching enemies, etc.  The cheetah displays similar adaptive features; it too has exceedingly long legs, but whereas it chases its prey, the maned wolf does not, though it's a fast runner.  It hunts sort of like the African serval, which is another long-limbed feline; it stalks slowly through the grass, freezes when it hears a promising rustling, then pounces on its quarry from above before it's aware of its immediate peril.  The pampas support a number of small mammals, especially rodents, and these are the maned wolf's usual prey.

The maned wolf has large ears, with the external ear being exaggerated in order to catch the faintest sound which enables the animal to pinpoint its victims at night when its eyesight is of little practical use.  It is a nocturnal hunter and spends the day in the cover of a thicket.  A large amount of zoos have been successful at providing suitable conditions for the maned wolf - which is a very shy, difficult subject, to say the least.

The maned wolf specializes in small and medium-sized prey, including small mammals (typically rodents and hares), birds, and even fish.  A large fraction of its diet (over 50%, according to some studies) is vegetable matter, including sugarcane, tubers, and fruit (especially the wolf apple, Solanum lycocarpum, a tomato-like fruit).  Captive maned wolves were traditionally fed meat-heavy diets and developed bladder stones. Zoo diets now feature fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and dog chow.

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---End of Post "The Maned Wolf"

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