The dingo is a wild dog that can be found in Australia and in Southeast Asia. They are yellow to red furred, depending on their habitat. Dingos can live alone (mostly males), or in packs that can have up to ten animals. In packs or alone, dingos will hunt small animals including rabbits, rodents, birds and lizards, and even eat fruits and plants. Dingos who live close to humans will scavenge for food near people. Dingo packs can move around a lot, communicating with each other by howling. Dingos can live in a wide variety of habitats, only being limited by access to water. Their preferences include woodlands, grasslands, and forests.
Scientists have theorized that dingos first came to Australia as domestic dogs with Asian mariners about 4,000 years ago, and the oldest Australian dingo fossil supports this, being about 3,250 years old. However, a 2011 study proposed that dingos came to Australia across a land bridge anywhere between 4,600 and 18,300 years ago.
Dingos breed once a year between March and June. Females are pregnant for 9 weeks, and then give birth to four to six pups. The pups will be raised by both parents in some sort of hollow or burrow, and will be weaned after two months. Some pups and parents go separate ways soon after, but others may stay together for another year. By seven months old, dingos are considered fully grown, and they may live up to ten years. Pups born in a pack to a non-dominant female will be killed to insure the survival of the main dingo’s pups.
Image courtesy of Arian Wallach
In Australia, dingos are so numerous, they are sometimes considered pests, but because of purposeful removal of dingos from farming areas, they are no usually found in parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Southeastern Australia and the very tip of Western Australia. They also never ended up in Tasmania. A lot of their range was reduced in the past to try and protect livestock.
Even though there are so many of these carnivores, more than ⅓ of these dingos have interbred with domestic dogs. This might lead to a decline in dingo numbers.
Dingo: National geographic. Animals. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/dingo.
Burrell, A. S. (n.d.). Dingo. The Australian Museum. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/dingo/.
Bradford, A. (2015, October 27). Facts about Dingos. LiveScience. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://www.livescience.com/52594-dingo.html.
Cover image courtesy of the Australian Museum