Crab-eating fox

The crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), also known as the forest fox, wood fox, or maikong, is an extant species of medium-sized canid endemic to the central part of South America, and which appeared during the Pliocene epoch.[3] Like South American foxes, which are in the genus Lycalopex, it is not closely related to true foxes. Cerdocyon comes from the Greek words kerdo (meaning fox) and cyon (dog) referring to the dog-and fox-like characteristics of this animal.

Crab-eating fox[1]
Crab-eating Fox
Cerdocyon thous from Colombia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Caninae
Tribe: Canini
Genus: Cerdocyon
C. E. H. Smith, 1839
C. thous
Binomial name
Cerdocyon thous
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Crab-eating Fox area
Crab-eating fox range

Canis thous Linnaeus, 1766


Cerdocyonina is a tribe which appeared around 6.0 million years ago (Mya) in North America as Cerdocyon avius becoming extinct by around 1.4–1.3 Mya. living about 4.7 million years. This genus has persisted in South America from an undetermined time, possibly around 3.1 Mya, and continues to the present in the same or a similar form to the crab-eating fox.[4]

As one of the species of the tribe Canini, it is related to the genus Canis. The crab-eating fox's nearest living relative, as theorized at present, is the short-eared dog. This relationship, however, has yet to be supported by mitochondrial investigations. Two subgenera (Atelocynus and Speothos) were long ago included in Cerdocyon.


The crab-eating fox is a canid that ranges in savannas; woodlands; subtropical forests; prickly, shrubby thickets; and tropical savannas such as the caatinga, plains, and campo, from Colombia and southern Venezuela in the north to Paraguay, Uruguay and northern Argentina at the southernmost reaches of its range.[5] The crab-eating fox has also been sighted in Panama since the 1990s.[6]

Its habitat also includes wooded riverbanks such as riparian forest. In the rainy season, their range moves uphill, whilst in drier times they move to lower ground.[7] Their habitat covers all environments except rainforests, high mountains, and open grassy savannas. In some regions of their range, they are threatened with extirpation.

Taxonomy and evolution

Cerdocyon thous, C. avius and other species of the genus Cerdocyon underwent radiational evolution on the South American continent.[8] All close relatives of the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) are extinct. It is the only living representative at present of the genus Cerdocyon. Genetically, there are 74 diploid chromosomes (36 pairs).


The crab-eating fox is predominantly greyish-brown, with areas of red on the face and legs, and black-tipped ears and tail. It has short, strong legs and its tail is long and bushy. It may reach an adult weight of 10 to 17 pounds (4.5 to 7.7 kg). The head and body length averages 64.3 centimetres (25.3 in), and the average tail length is 28.5 centimetres (11.2 in).[9] This fox weighs between 10 to 17 pounds (4.5 to 7.7 kg).[10][11] It is mainly nocturnal and also is active at dusk, spending its day in dens that were dug by other animals. It either hunts individually or lives in pairs; it eats crabs, lizards and different flying animals. It is easy to domesticate and farm, but its fur is not so highly valued as that of other species.

The coat is short and thick. Coloration varies from grey to brown, to yellowish, to pale, to dark grey. There is a black streak along the back legs, with a black stripe along the spine. On muzzle, ears and paws there is more-reddish fur. The tail, legs and ear tips are black. The ears are wide and round. The torso is somewhat narrow; legs are short but strong. The dense hairy tail stays upright when they are excited.

Life cycle and behaviour

The crab-eating fox creates monogamic teams for hunting; groups of several monogamic pairs may form during the reproductive season. The population distribution is as follows: some explorers show one individual distribution for 4 km2. One observation showed that one had changed from 0,6 to 0,9 km2 for one individual.[9] Territorialism was noticed during the dry season; during rainy seasons, when there is more food, they pay less attention to territory.[7] Hideouts and dens often are found in bushes and in thick grass, and there are typically multiple entrance holes per den. Despite being capable of tunnelling, they prefer to take over other animals' burrows. Hunting methods are adapted to type of prey. Several characteristic sounds are made by the crab-eating fox such as barking, whirring and howling, which occur often when pairs lose contact with one another.

Cachorro do mato (Cerdocyon thous)
Cerdocyon thous


The adult female gives birth to one or two litters per year, and the breeding pair is monogamous. The pair ranges the plains together. As a tropical animal, reproduction is not fixed to certain times of year, and takes place twice yearly. The reproductive period most often begins in November or December, and again in July. The birth of offspring follows after a 56-day gestation, typically in January, February or sometimes March[7], then again from September to October.


The crab-eating fox searches for crabs on muddy floodplains during the wet season, giving this animal its common name. It is an opportunist and an omnivore, preferring insects or meat from rodents and birds when available. Other foods readily consumed include turtle eggs, tortoises, fruit, eggs, crustaceans, insects, lizards and carrion. Their diet is varied and has been found to differ by different researchers, suggesting opportunistic feeding and geographical variation. During the wet season, the diet contains more crabs and other crustaceans, while during the dry season it contains more insects.[9] The crab-eating fox contributes to the control of rodents and harmful insects.


This fox is occasionally hunted, but the pelt is not valuable. They do not pose a danger to livestock. The crab-eating fox is not currently a species of concern for conservation; however, its habitat is slowly shrinking due to human activity such as agriculture, as well as feral dogs' encroachment on its territory, though the population is still stable. Despite the low value of their pelts, these canids are sometimes killed by locals, even though there has been no unambiguous proof that they attack farm animals. They are easy to domesticate, and often bred by local people. This does not, however, remove the threats to their population. The species is not protected at present.

Status of conservation

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) lists the fox as not threatened by extinction.[12] The IUCN lists the crab-eating fox as being of "Least Concern".[2]


The crab-eating fox has five recognized subspecies[1], differing in sizes and coloring of fur.[13]


  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 578. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Courtenay, O. & Maffei, L. (2008). "Cerdocyon thous". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
  3. ^ C. Cartelle and W. C. Hartwig. 1996. A new extinct primate among the Pleistocene megafauna of Bahia, Brazil. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 93:6405-6409
  4. ^ Tedford, Richard H., Wang, Xiaoming, Taylor, Beryl E., Phylogenetic systematics of the North American fossil Caninae (Carnivora, Canidae). (Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 325)PDF
  5. ^ J.F. Eisenberg, K.H. Redford Mammals of the Neotropics – The Central Neotropics, vol. 3, University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1999)
  6. ^ Tejera-N, VH; Araúz-G., V. León, A. R. Rodríguez, P. González, S. Bermúdez & R. Moreno. 1999. Primer registro del zorro cangrejero Cerdocyon thous (Carnivora: Canidae), para Panamá. Scientia 14: 103-107
  7. ^ a b c Nowak, Ronald M. (2005). Walker's Carnivores of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0-8018-8032-7
  8. ^ De Lavigne, Guillaume. Free Ranging Dogs-Stray, Feral or Wild?. Lulu Press, Inc, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Annalisa Berta; Cerdocyon thous, Mammalian Species, Issue 186, 23 November 1982, Pages 1–4,
  10. ^ Hover A (2003) Cerdocyon thous. Animal Diversity Web. Accessed 05 July 2016
  11. ^ Yahnke CJ, Johnson WE, Geffen E, Smith D, Hertel F, Roy MS, Bonacic CF, Fuller TK, Van Valkenburgh V, Wayne RK (1996) Darwin’s fox: a distinct endangered species in a vanishing habitat. Conserv Biol 10:366–375
  12. ^ Hutton, Jon, and Barnabas Dickson, eds. Endangered species, threatened convention: the past, present and future of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. London: Earthscan, 2000.
  13. ^ BISBAL, Francisco J. "A taxonomic study of the crab-eating fox, Cerdocyon thous, in Venezuela." Mammalia 52.2 (1988): 181-186.

External links

Aguaragüe National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area

Aguaragüe National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area (Parque Nacional y Área Natural de Manejo Integrado Serranía del Aguaragüe) is a protected area in Bolivia situated in the Tarija Department, Gran Chaco Province. The national park covers the whole of Serranía del Aguaragüe, the easternmost mayor Sub-Andean range.

Bom Jesus Biological Reserve

The Bom Jesus Biological Reserve (Portuguese: Reserva Biológica Bom Jesus) is a biological reserve in the state of Paraná, Brazil.


The biological family Canidae

(from Latin, canis, “dog”) is a lineage of carnivorans that includes domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, dingoes, and many other extant and extinct dog-like mammals. A member of this family is called a canid (, ).The cat-like feliforms and dog-like caniforms emerged within the Carnivoramorpha 43 million years before present. The caniforms included the fox-like genus Leptocyon whose various species existed from 34 million years ago (Mya) before branching 11.9 Mya into Vulpini (foxes) and Canini (canines).Canids are found on all continents except Antarctica, having arrived independently or accompanied human beings over extended periods of time. Canids vary in size from the 2-m-long (6 ft 7 in) gray wolf to the 24-cm-long (9.4 in) fennec fox. The body forms of canids are similar, typically having long muzzles, upright ears, teeth adapted for cracking bones and slicing flesh, long legs, and bushy tails. They are mostly social animals, living together in family units or small groups and behaving co-operatively. Typically, only the dominant pair in a group breeds, and a litter of young is reared annually in an underground den. Canids communicate by scent signals and vocalizations. They are very intelligent. One canid, the domestic dog, long ago entered into a partnership with humans and today remains one of the most widely kept domestic animals.

Cerdocyon avius

Cerdocyon avius is an extinct species of omnivorous mammal of the family Canidae, which inhabited North America during the Pliocene, Blancan in the NALMA classification, from about 4.9 to approximately 2.6 Ma. It was similar to the modern crab-eating fox.

Cerradomys scotti

Cerradomys scotti, also known as Lindbergh's oryzomys, is a rodent species from South America in the genus Cerradomys. It is terrestrial and is found in the cerrado (savanna) ecozone of south central Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. The species is common and appears to tolerate a degree of agricultural habitat modification.It was first described in 2002 as Oryzomys scotti, after zoologist Scott Lindbergh. In 2004, another new species, Oryzomys andersoni, was described by a team from Texas Tech University on the basis of a specimen taken at Pozo Mario, Santa Cruz Department, southeastern Bolivia. It was named after eminent mammalogist Sydney Anderson in honor of his contributions to the study of Bolivian mammals. It was subsequently recognized as belonging to the same species as Oryzomys scotti on the basis of morphological and molecular evidence. In 2006, the species was transferred to the new genus Cerradomys, so that it became known as Cerradomys scotti, with Oryzomys andersoni as a junior synonym.The holotype of Oryzomys andersoni has a white belly and a grey–brown back with a black dorsal stripe. It has head-body length 111 mm, tail length 122 mm, hindfoot length 30 mm, ear length 17 mm and weight 37 g. It was collected in cerrado habitat. Other mammals found in the same area include Monodelphis domestica, Proechimys longicaudatus, Sciurus spadiceus, Galea spixii, Dasyprocta punctata, the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), the red brocket (Mazama americana), and the brown brocket (Mazama gouazoupira).

Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve

Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve, known in Spanish as Reserva Natural de las Aves Reinita Cielo Azul, is a nature reserve near Bucaramanga in central Colombia. The reserve is set among oak forest on the eastern slopes of the Magdalena River. It measures 545 acres (221 ha) and adjoins the Yariguíes National Park.The reserve was founded in 2005 by Fundación ProAves, a non-profit environmental organization that owns and manages several reserves in Colombia, with the assistance of the American Bird Conservancy. It was established to provide an area of protected habitat for migratory birds from North America such as the cerulean warbler as well as locally threatened species. The reserve has incorporated a 15 hectares (37 acres) coffee farm, producing shade-grown coffee which it promotes and sells as conservation-friendly Cerulean Warbler Coffee to cover the operating costs of the reserve.

Common fox

Common fox may refer to:

Crab-eating fox

Red fox

Cozumel fox

The Cozumel fox is an undescribed species of fox in the genus Urocyon, which is apparently close to extinction or already extinct. It is (or was until recently) found on the island of Cozumel, Mexico. The last reported sighting was in 2001, but surveys focusing on this species have not yet been carried out. The Cozumel fox, which has not been scientifically described to date, is a dwarf form like the island fox but slightly larger, being up to three-quarters the size of the gray fox. It had been isolated on the island for at least 5,000 years, and probably far longer. This would indicate that the colonization of the island of Cozumel by Urocyon predates that of humans.


A crabeater is an animal species that feeds on crabs. It may refer to:

Cobia, a species of fish which also is commonly called crabeater

Crabeater seal, a species of seal

Crabeater gull, also known as Olrog's gull

Crab-eating fox, a canid species

Crab-eating raccoon, a raccoon species

Crab-eating mongoose, a mongoose species

Crab-plover, a shorebird species

Crab-eating frog, a frog species

Fordonia leucobalia, also known as crab-eating water snake

Crab-eating macaque, a simian species

Creative Playthings (album)

Creative Playthings is the seventh album by Electric Company, released on October 5, 2004 through Tigerbeat6.


The culpeo (Lycalopex culpaeus), sometimes known as the zorro culpeo or Andean fox, is a South American fox species. It is the second-largest native canid on the continent, after the maned wolf. In appearance, it bears many similarities to the widely recognized red fox. It has grey and reddish fur, a white chin, reddish legs and a stripe on its back that may be barely visible.

The culpeo's diet consists largely of rodents, rabbits, birds and lizards, and to a lesser extent, plant material and carrion. The culpeo does attack sheep on occasion and is therefore often hunted or poisoned. In some regions it has become rare, but overall the species is not threatened with extinction.

The culpeo was domesticated to form the Fuegian dog, but this animal became extinct some time between 1880 and 1919.

Fauna of Uruguay

The fauna of Uruguay is a part of the wildlife of Uruguay.


Foxes are small-to-medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. Foxes have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or brush).

Twelve species belong to the monophyletic "true foxes" group of genus Vulpes. Approximately another 25 current or extinct species are always or sometimes called foxes; these foxes are either part of the paraphyletic group of the South American foxes, or of the outlying group, which consists of bat-eared fox, gray fox, and island fox. Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with about 47 recognized subspecies. The global distribution of foxes, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their prominence in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world. The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially in the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.

Fox dog

Fox dog is a name given by some naturalists to wild dogs of South America with a fox-like appearance. Among them are:

Atelocynus microtis (the short-eared dog of Brazil)

Cerdocyon thous azarae (zono, or Azara's dog; a variety of the crab-eating fox)

Lycalopex vetulus (the hoary fox of Brazil)

Procyon cancrivorus (crab-eating raccoon)

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area

The Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area (Spanish: Área Natural Única Los Estoraques) is one of the smaller national parks, covering only 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi), located in the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia in the Norte de Santander Department. The landscape is shaped by large brownstone pedestals and columns formed by thousands of years of erosion. The area is part of the Catatumbo River basin and elevation range from 1,450 to 1,900 meters above mean sea level. It was declared an Área Natural Única (Unique Natural Area) in 1998.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Maned wolf

The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is the largest canid of South America. Its markings resemble those of foxes, but it is not a fox, nor is it a wolf. It is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon (meaning "golden dog").

This mammal is found in open and semiopen habitats, especially grasslands with scattered bushes and trees, in south, central-west, and southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, northern Argentina, Bolivia east and north of the Andes, and far southeastern Peru (Pampas del Heath only). It is very rare in Uruguay, possibly being displaced completely through loss of habitat. IUCN lists it as near threatened, while it is considered a vulnerable species by the Brazilian government (IBAMA).

It is known locally as aguará guazú (meaning "large fox" in the Guarani language), or kalak in the Toba Qom language, lobo de crin, lobo de los esteros, or lobo colorado, and lobo-guará in Brazil. It also is called borochi in Bolivia.

Medellín small-eared shrew

The Medellín small-eared shrew (Cryptotis medellinia) is a species of mammal in the family Soricidae. It is endemic to Colombia, where it is known from the northern parts of the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Central at elevations from 2500 to 2800 m. The species is found in montane forest and cultivated areas, and is subject to predation from the crab-eating fox. The specific name refers to the city of Medellín.

The Crab and the Fox

The tale of the crab and the fox is of Greek origin and is counted as one of Aesop's fables; it is numbered 116 in the Perry Index. The moral is that one comes to grief through not sticking to one’s allotted role in life

Extant Carnivora species

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