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The Culpeo (Lycalopex culpaeus), also known as the Andean Fox or culpeo zorro, is the second-largest canid of South America, surpassed only by the Maned Wolf (which we'll get to down the road). It's similar in appearance to the Red Fox, but is not closely related to it, being of a different genus.
On a scale of size, the Culpeo is larger than the Red Fox but smaller than the Coyote. Large males can weigh up to 25 pounds (11.4 Kg), while females are smaller at 19 pounds (8.4 Kg). They can measure up to 45 inches (114 cm) in length, with a 20-inch (51 cm) tail. They will usually have a black tip on their tails and a faint line going down their spines.
Culpeo can be found in the western part of South America, from Ecuador and Peru down to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. It's commonly in the western parts of the Andes mountains. It can also be found in the Falklands, though there it is an introduced species and not native to the islands.
There are six recognized subspecies:
- Lycalopex culpaeus culpaeus
- Lycalopex culpaeus andinus
- Lycalopex culpaeus lycoides
- Lycalopex culpaeus magellanicus
- Lycalopex culpaeus reissii
- Lycalopex culpaeus smithersi
Culpeo feed primarily on rodents, lizards, rabbits and birds, though they will also eat some vegetation and scavenge on carrion.
Female Culpeo will give birth to a litter of two to five kits after a 55 to 60-day gestation period. Its size means that it dominates the field of similarly-sized predators that share its range, such as Geoffrey's Cat, Pampas Cats, raptors and a South American mustelid called the Grison. Its range sometimes overlaps with that of the Puma, but Culpeo and Puma typically do not compete for the same type of prey.