The Bush Dog – An Endangered Species from Ecuador
The wildlife in Ecuador is extremely diverse and fascinating. Ecuador is home to many animals and birds that are unique to the country. Sadly, many of these animals are found on the endangered species list of Ecuador. One such species is the Bush Dog (Speothos venaticus), an elusive creature that roams the forests in search of food and survival.
The Bush Dog of Ecuador is a small animal that weighs between five to seven kilograms and stands at a maximum height of thirty centimeters. Their characteristic reddish-brown coats are easily recognized and their coat hair is described as “longish”. The hairs of their coats are remarkably soft and lighter patches can usually be noticed under their throats. Bush Dogs have rounded skulls and their tails are of a darker coloration than the rest of their bodies. What makes these beautiful animals so unique is the fact that they have webbing between their toes, which means they are very strong swimmers.
The first reported Bush Dog sighting was made in 1839. They are found in Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Guyana. They are known by different names, for instance, in Brazil they are called Vinegar Dogs and the French call them Zorro. Other names like Water Dog, Savannah Dog and Forest Dog are also common. Even though they are capable of swimming, the Bush Dog of Ecuador prefers to live in the forest areas. They are found in small packs and it is generally the males that are responsible for hunting. Prey is usually small mammals or rodents, but it is known that bigger prey is sometimes hunted, with the whole pack working together to make the kill.
Male Bush Dogs reach sexual maturity at the age of one, and females have a gestation period of approximately 63 to 67 days. The female can give birth to a maximum of six pups that will remain at their mother’s side for a reasonable amount of time, even up to eight weeks, after which they will be weaned off her. In some cases, pups will live under the protection of their mother for up to five months after they are weaned. In the wild, Bush Dogs can reach ten years of age.
Many locals have Bush Dogs as pets,. Recent years have seen a decline in the numbers of wild Bush Dogs, but not so much from hunting and killing of these creatures. More and more of their natural habitat is being destroyed, leaving them with nowhere safe to live and breed. Conservationists are doing everything possible to ensure that the Bush Dog does not become extinct.