Full disclosure: I have never heard of these guys before, let alone seen any. I was tempted to call this post "Wednesday Woof - Wolvercorgi Edition", because they do look to me like what you'd get if a wolverine and a corgi found True Love together (still very cute in their own way). But I digress.
Bush Dogs are a smallish canid that can be found in Central and South America, although it's incredibly rare within that range and mostly concentrated in Suriname. They are the only extant species of the genus Speothos, and it's believed that their closest living relative is the Maned Wolf.
Adult Bush Dogs can grow up to 30 inches (75 cm) from nose to the base of the tail, and the tail is about 5 inches long (13 cm). They only weigh about 18 pounds (8 Kg) and have a reddish-brown coat when they reach maturity. There are many local names for the Bush Dog, including cachorro-vinagre/perro vinagre (vinegar dog), zorro vinagre (vinegar fox), or perro de agua (water dog).
There are three recognized subspecies of Bush Dog:
- Speothos venaticus venaticus (Brazil, the Guyanas, southern Colombia, Ecuador and Peru - medium-sized and dark in color)
- Speothos venaticus panamensis (northern Colombia, Venezuela and Panama - small and light in color)
- Speothos venaticus wingei (Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil - small and light in color)
Bush Dogs are diurnal carnivores, preying on large rodents like capybara, agouti, and pacas. They will hunt alone or more often in small family packs, which allows them to bring down larger prey like rheas, peccaries and even animals as large as tapir.
Bush Dog mating can happen at any time during the year. Female Bush Dogs will give birth to a litter of three to six puppies after a gestation period of up to 83 days. The pups will emerge from dens (usually abandoned armadillo burrows) after nineteen days, when their eyes are open. They're weaned at about four weeks. You can see some pictures of young Bush Dogs in captivity here.
Bush Dog packs are family packs. They're led by a mated pair, and all younger pack members are subordinate to them. They keep in contact with each other while hunting through different vocalizations, mostly whines. The Bush Dog is considered Near Threatened by the IUCN.