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
36 inches at shoulder
50 - 70 lb.
Golden-red fur, long black legs and a black mane; a distinct odor similar to that of a skunk
62 - 63 days
2 - 5 pups
U.S. Birth Season
December - March
Wild 10 years
Captivity 12 - 15 years
About Maned Wolf
Though termed a wolf and closely resembling a large red fox, this animal is placed in a genus of its own. The maned wolf is an unusual-looking canid with golden-red fur, long black legs and big ears.
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 the common name “maned wolf.” It is the largest of all South American canids and is often described as a “fox on stilts.”
Acute hearing via large, rotating ears and its long legs allow this animal to detect small mice and insects in the tall grasses of its habitat. They tap the ground with a front foot to flush out the prey and pounce to catch it, or they may dig after burrowing prey. They may also leap into the air to capture birds and insects; maned wolves are solitary hunters.
True wolves, such as the Mexican 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 a fruit, the loberia - a small tomato-like berry which is such a large part of their diet that it is called the “wolf apple.”
Other seasonally abundant fruits and vegetables, insects, rodents, birds, bird eggs, grasses, and small deer make up the rest of this unique wolf’s diet. Fruits and vegetables alone comprise 50 percent of the maned wolf's diet.
Maned wolves do not howl, but communicate with loud roar barks. These barks are most commonly heard during the breeding season. Submissive whining and puffing noises to pups are other vocalizations.
Maned wolf urine has a powerful aroma, reminding many humans of the way skunks smell. Maned wolves mark their territory with this urine and feces on hillocks and termite mounds along their borders.
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.
Females enter estrus once a year for approximately five days. Males only produce sperm during the breeding season as well. After a 65-day gestation, the female gives birth to 1-5 pups in a shallow “den” in the grass.
We have learned from animals in captivity that males play a role in raising young along with the female, mainly in terms of providing food to the pups. In the wild, the maned wolf is rarely seen with its pups. The pups are black at birth and turn golden-red at about six months of age and generally leave their parents' territory at one year old.
They inhabit the cerrado, the largest biome of South America, which is composed of wet and dry forests, grasslands, savannas, marshes, and wetlands.
The main threats to the survival of maned wolves are disease, loss of habitat due to the rapid conversion of grasslands from traditional large cattle ranches to soybean or other agricultural production, and conflict with man. Their fondness for domestic chickens gets maned wolves into trouble with ranchers and poultry farmers. Hunting is considered a definite threat to their survival in the wild.
Maned wolves range from crepuscular (active in twilight) to nocturnal.
At Fossil Rim, maned wolves live in the Jim Jackson Intensive Management Area. Most recently, three pups were born in 2018.
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