The Maned wolf is now considered endangered throughout most of its natural range. In both Bolivia and Uruguay it is believed to be extinct, or surviving in very low numbers. Current information on its status is scarce, but researchers roughly estimate that there are between 1500 and 2500 alive today.Although it is a member of the Canedae family, which contains dogs, wolves, and foxes, the maned wolf is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon. It is considered not to be a "true wolf". It looks mostly like an overgrown fox with extremely long legs and a prominent crest of hair across its shoulders.Ancestors of the maned wolf are thought to have spread from North to South America about two million years ago. Broken away from other wolf species in North America, the maned wolf evolved into what it is today.
- ft long, 2.5 ft high at shoulder, tail 18 in, 4 feet in length,about 50 lbs. Red coat with long black legs, muzzle and "mane" (patch of long, erect hairs across the shoulders); white under chin, inside ears and tip of tail. No underfur. Pups born black with white-tipped tail. Largest canid in South America. Long legs permit this animal to see well above tall grass.
- Two middle toe pads joined at base, allowing foot to spread, increasing the surface area in contact with marshy ground.
- Mane, when held erect, gives the impression of greater size to other individuals.
- Lack of underfur that is typically present in other canids may help to keep animal from overheating in tropical climates.
- Large, erect ears act as heat radiators as well as sound detectore
The maned wolf is a flesh eater like all other dogs, although fruits make up about half of its diet. Its favorite food is the wild guinea pig found in its area. It will eat rabbits, rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, fish, and snails. It has sharp teeth for tearing meat, and broad flat molars for crushing fruit. It hunts mainly at dusk and at night. It catches its prey with a swift, high pounce. Occasionally, it digs creatures out of their burrows.
Captive maned wolves live between 12-15 years. Their lifespan is unknown in the wild.