Cuon alpinusdhole

Last updated:

Geographic Range

From the Altai Mountains in Manchuria in Central and Eastern Asia, its range spreads southwards through the forest tracts of India, Burma, and the Malayan Archipelago. Three races of the dhole exist in India alone

(Trans-Himalayan, Himalayan, and Peninsular).

Habitat

Dholes like open spaces and can often be found on jungle roads, river beds, jungle clearings, and paths, where they rest during the day. Their hunting range is about 40sq km (15sq mi). The dhole can also be found in dense forest steppes, and the thick jungles of the plains as well as the hills. They are never found in the open plains and deserts.

Physical Description

The dhole is an average size canine with head/body length 90cm (35"), tail length 40-45cm (16"-18"), and shoulder height 50cm (20"). The dhole is set apart from other canids in that it has an unusually thick muzzle and one less molar tooth on each side of its lower jaw. Other members of the family Canidae have a total of 42 teeth. The adult dhole is characterized by a rusty red coat with a pale underside; depending on the region, pelage may vary from light brownish gray to a uniform red coat. A dhole is born with a sooty brown color, acquiring an adult color at three months of age. Dholes also have dark, almost always black, bushy tails.

  • Range mass
    17 to 21 kg
    37.44 to 46.26 lb

Reproduction

Each pack contains a dominant monogamous pair. Subordinate pack members help care for the young of the dominant pair.

The dhole's gestation period is 60-62 days. The mother usually gives birth to eight pups at a time. The pups reach sexual maturity at about a year. Pups are born throughout the end of fall, winter, and the first spring months ( November - March ). Female dhole can have up to 16 mammae, suggesting their ability to take care of large litters. Dens are constructed near streambeds or among rocks. After a female dhole has given birth, a few other adults take part in feeding the mother as well as the pups. The pups, as early as the tender age of three weeks, and the mother are fed regurgitated meat.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    2 to 6
  • Average number of offspring
    3.5
  • Average number of offspring
    5
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    60 to 63 days
  • Average weaning age
    58 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    365 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    365 days
    AnAge
  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • post-independence association with parents
  • extended period of juvenile learning

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Dholes live in packs ranging from 5 - 12. They interact with other dholes outside of their own group, but the original pack rarely exceeds 20. They are similar to the African Wild Dog in that they engage in cooperative group hunting and group care of young. Dholes are very fond of water. After meals they race to a water site, and sometimes, if the water is near their kill, dholes will leave their food for a small drink of water. They have also been spotted sitting in shallow pools of water regardless of the temperature. Just as domestic dogs, dholes wag their tails. There is rarely any evidence of aggressiveness among pack members ( except for the cubs, who like to play fight) and there is almost never any bullying.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The dhole eats wild berries, insects, and lizards. Packs of dholes feast on mammals ranging from rodents to deer. Some of the dhole's favorites include wild pigs, hares, wild goats, sheep, and occasionally a monkey. Unlike many other "dogs," the dhole seldom kills by biting the throat. Larger mammals are attacked from the rear, while smaller ones are caught by any part of the bodies. The smaller mammals are killed by a swift blow to the head; the larger mammals are immediately disembowled. Dholes compete for the food, not by fighting, but by how fast they can eat. An adult dhole can eat up to 4kg (8.8lbs) of meat in one hour. Two to three dholes can kill a 50kg (110 lb) deer in less than two minutes, and they begin to feed on it before it is dead. The larger prey rarely die from the attack itself, but from blood loss and shock as their intestines, heart, liver, and eyes are feasted upon.

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Dholes have become an indirect food source for the residents of the jungles. Dholes do not attack human beings, and they usually retreat at the sight of a person. Human residents of the jungle follow dholes when they are hunting. When the dhole ccompletes its kill, the human hunters scare it away and steal its kill.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Although this occurs on rare occasions, dholes can attack livestock at the cost of the owner.

Conservation Status

There are 10 subspecies of the dhole ranging in color and size. Two of the subspecies are listed as endangered by the IUCN (east asian dhole and the west indian dhole). Two other subspecies are on the verge of extinction ( C.a. primaerus, and the C.a. laniger).

Contributors

Raquel Chacon (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cooperative breeder

helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Fox, Michael W. The Whistling Hunters: Field Studies Of The Asiatic Wild Dog

State University of New York Albany c1984

Durbin, L. 2000. "Dhole Home Page" (On-line). Accessed 17 May 2000 at http://www.dcpbase.demon.co.uk/dcp/.