Despite its name, the maned wolf isn’t actually a wolf. Instead, it falls into its own genus of canid separate from wolves and foxes. The maned wolf has bright, golden-red fur, long black legs and big ears. Due to this unique combination of features, the maned wolf is sometimes described as a "fox on stilts." A dark mane on the back of the neck and on top of the shoulders can be raised during stressful encounters and is the source of its name. It is the largest of all South American canids.
Maned wolves have excellent hearing thanks to their large, rotating ears. Their hearing is said to be so acute that they can detect small mice and insects in the tall grasses of their habitat.
True wolves, such as the Mexican gray and American red wolves also at Fossil Rim, are strict carnivores, but the maned wolf is omnivorous. This means that they eat a variety of foods including fruit. One specific fruit, the lobeira , is such a large part of their diet that it is called the “wolf apple.” Other seasonally abundant fruits and vegetables, as well as insects, rodents, birds, bird eggs, grasses, and small deer make up the rest of this unique wolf’s diet.
Maned wolves do not howl, but communicate with loud roar-like barks. These barks are most commonly heard during the breeding season. Submissive whining and puffing noises are also made, though typically only to pups.
Maned wolf urine smells similar to skunk spray, and is used to mark territories. Although the wolf itself is incredibly elusive, humans can often tell when they’re near thanks to the strong scent.
Presently, the main threats to the survival of maned wolves are disease, loss of habitat and conflict with man. Occasionally, their fondness for domestic chickens gets maned wolves into trouble with ranchers and poultry farmers. Trophy hunting is also considered a threat to their survival in the wild.
Although considered endangered by the Argentine and Brazilian governments, little is known about the social life of wild maned wolves. Mostly solitary, males and females form mated pairs, sharing and defending a territory, but are rarely found together outside of the annual breeding season. In short, much more research is needed to help conservationists take the next step towards protecting this unique species.
Where are they?
The maned wolves live in the Intensive Management Area. They can be visited on a Behind-The-Scenes Tour.
Look closely for maned wolves lounging or slinking throughout their enclosure.
Species Survival Plan
Grasslands and scrub forests
Omnivorous – small mammals, fruit, vegetables, sugarcane, insects, birds, rodents, small reptiles, amphibians, eggs, frogs, lizards, mice, rats and rabbits
Originally Native To
Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay
Golden-red fur, long black legs and a black mane; a distinct odor similar to that of a skunk
Wild 10 years