Short-eared dog

The short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis), also known as the short-eared zorro and small-eared dog,[2][3] is a unique and elusive canid species endemic to the Amazonian basin.[1][2] This is the only species assigned to the genus Atelocynus.[1]

Short-eared dog[1]
Illustration of short-eared dog
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Caninae
Tribe: Canini
Genus: Atelocynus
Cabrera, 1940
A. microtis
Binomial name
Atelocynus microtis
(Sclater, 1883)
Distribución Atelocynus microtis
Short-eared dog range

Other names

It has many names in the local languages where it is endemic, such as: cachorro-do-mato-de-orelha-curta in Portuguese, zorro de oreja corta in Spanish, nomensarixi in the Chiquitano language, and uálaca in Yucuna. Other names in Spanish are zorro ojizarco, zorro sabanero, zorro negro.

Evolution and systematics

After the formation of the Isthmus of Panama in the latter part the Tertiary (about 2.5 million years ago in the Pliocene), canids migrated from North America to the southern continent as part of the Great American Interchange. The short-eared dog's ancestors adapted to life in tropical rainforests, developing the requisite morphological and anatomical features. Apart from its superficial resemblance to the bush dog, the short-eared dog seems not to be closely related to any fox-like or wolf-like canid.[4] It is one of the most unusual canids.[5]

Two subspecies of this canid are recognized:[1]

  • A. m. microtis
  • A. m. sclateri

Occurrence and environment

Short-eared Dog
Rare sight of short-eared dog

The short-eared dog can be found in the Amazon rainforest region of South America (in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and possibly Venezuela).[1] There is a single report of "three slender, doglike animals" of this species sighted in the Darien region of Panama in 1984 by German biologist Sigi Weisel and a native Embera nation Panamanian; this rare species' presence in Panama is possible because of "the continuous mass of forest habitat that covers this region".[3] It lives in various parts of the rainforest environment, preferring areas with little human disturbance. It lives in both lowland forests known as Selva Amazónica and terra firme forest, as well as in swamp forest, stands of bamboo, and cloud forest.[6]


Atelocynus mecrotis (Small eared fox) fur skin
Short-eared dog fur skin (Atelocynus microtis), fur skin collection, Bundes-Pelzfachschule, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Short-eared dog skull

The short-eared dog has short and slender limbs with short and rounded ears. The short-eared dog has a distinctive fox-like muzzle and bushy tail. It ranges from dark to reddish-grey, but can also be nearly navy blue, coffee brown, dark grey or chestnut-grey until to black, and the coat is short, with thick and bristly fur.[5] Its paws are partly webbed, owing to its partly aquatic habitat.[7]

It moves with feline lightness unparalleled among the other canids. It has a somewhat narrow chest, with dark color variation on thorax merging to brighter, more reddish tones on the abdominal side of the body.


This wild dog is mainly a carnivore, with fish, insects, and small mammals making up the majority of its diet. An investigation led in Cocha Cashu Biological Station in Peru into the proportions of different kinds of food in this animal's diet produced the following results: fish 28%, insects 17%, small mammals 13%, various fruits 10%, birds 10%, crabs 10%, frogs 4%, reptiles 3%.[8]

Reproduction and behavior

This species has some unique behaviors not typical to other canids. Females of this species are about one-third larger than males. The excited male sprays a musk produced by the tail glands. It prefers a solitary lifestyle, in forest areas. It avoids humans in the natural environment. Agitated males will raise the hairs on their backs.[9]

Lifespan and gestation period are unknown, although it is assumed that sexual maturity is reached at about one year of age.[9]

Threats, survival and ecological concerns

Feral dogs pose a prominent threat to the population of short-eared dogs, as they facilitate the spread of diseases such as canine distemper and rabies to the wild population. Humans also contribute to the extermination of the short-eared dog by degradation of the species' natural habitat and the destruction of tropical rainforests.

Manu riverbank
Manú National Park, Madre de Dios, Peru

Status of conservation

The short-eared dog is currently considered near threatened by IUCN.[2] No comprehensive ecological and genetic research has been carried out on the species.


  1. ^ a b c d e 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. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b c d Leite-Pitman, M.R.P. & Williams, R.S.R. (2011). "Atelocynus microtis". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2011: e.T6924A12814890. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2011-2.RLTS.T6924A12814890.en. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b de la Rosa, Carlos L.; and Nocke, Claudia. A Guide to the Carnivores of Central America: Natural History, Ecology, and Conservation. Austin: University of Texas Press; 2000. Accessed on November 4, 2015 at:
  4. ^ (R. Burton; International Wildlife Encyclopedia, 2002).
  5. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2012-02-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Atelocynus microtis (Short-eared Dog, Short-eared Fox, Small-eared Dog, Small-eared Zorro)". Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  7. ^ "ADW: Atelocynus microtis: Information". Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  8. ^ Lioncrusher's Domain - Small Eared Zorro (Atelocynus microtis) facts and pictures Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b ebcc Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • M.R.P Leite Pitman and R.S.R. Williams. Short-eared dog;Atelocynus microtis (Sclater, 1883).C-S. Zubiri, M. Hoffmann and D. W. Macdonald. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs - 2004 Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN Publications Services Unit, 219c Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, United Kingdom, 2004.
  • Alderton, David. Foxes, Wolves and Wild Dogs of the World. Blandford Press: United Kingdom, 1998.
  • Nowak, Ronald. Walker's Carnivores of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 2005.

External links

Asiatic linsang

The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.


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.

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. 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.


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.

Egyptian weasel

The Egyptian weasel (Mustela subpalmata) is a species of weasel that lives in northern Egypt. It is rated "Least Concern" by the IUCN Red List.


Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.

Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)

Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)

Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)

Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)

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)


Galerella is a genus of the mongoose family (Herpestidae) native to Africa and commonly called the slender mongooses.There are four or five species in this genus, with more than 30 subspecies.

Four of the species have long been established:

A recent addition is the black mongoose, Galerella nigrata, which now is considered a separate species by many scientists, following genetic analysis. It was previously seen as a variant of Galerella sanguinea.

List of threatened mammals of Brazil

There are more than 700 species of mammals in Brazil, and according to Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation and Ministry of the Environment, about 110 species and subspecies are threatened and one is extinct. Brazilian definition of "threatened species" uses the same criteria and categories established by IUCN. Among the 12 mammal orders which occur in Brazil, eleven have threatened species, except Lagomorpha (which has only one species in Brazil, the Brazilian cottontail). Although the rodents have been the most diverse order of mammals, the order with most species on list is Primates (34 species).The actual list of threatened species was published in Diário Oficial da União, on December 17, 2014. Even though some species have been removed from the list, (for instance, the Humpback whale), the number of threatened species has increased in comparison with the former list (which had had 69 species). The Brazilian tapir, the White-lipped peccary, the Short-eared dog and many rodents have been included in the list. Many of them are just regionally threatened. In spite of using the same criteria, ICMBio list often shows a different conservation status than IUCN. That's because both assessments have been done in different moments and by different researchers.Most of Brazilian mammals are vulnerable species. In contrast with the former list, one species is considered extinct (Vespucci's rodent) and two might be extinct in Brazil (Black-shouldered opossum and Candango mouse; "probably extinct" - PEx).


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.

Marca's marmoset

The Marca's marmoset (Mico marcai) is a species of marmoset that is endemic to the Amazon, in the Aripuanã-Manicoré interfluvium in Brazil. It is virtually unknown; in 2008 the IUCN noted that it had never been seen in the wild, though it has been observed since then. Probably, Mico manicorensis will be considered a synonymous of M. marcai.

Mephitis (genus)

The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.

Mitla (cryptid)

The Bolivian Mitla, also known as Fawcett's Cat-Dog is a medium-sized carnivoran and described as a cat-like dog or canid-looking felid from the rainforest in Bolivia. The report comes from Lieutenant Colonel Percy Fawcett who spent time in Bolivia between 1906-1914. Jeremy Mallinson, the director of Jersey Zoo (now Durrell Wildlife Park) searched for the Mitla in 1960.

The Mitla may be a canid, or a genus of cat similar to the jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi). Some authors suspect that it is feline, but more likely it is a dog, and a relative of the short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis). Dr. Karl Shuker described it as a mysterious dog with feline behavior (T. Pietrzak, unpublished.).

The place where Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett saw the mitla may be situated in forests eastern of Cuzco region near to Madidi jungle (established in 1995 to range Bolivian National Park). This is also where Atelocynus microtis lives, which some writers say is the mitla, although the mitla is almost twice as big, and darker in colour.


Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).


Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.


Pusa is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. The three species of this genus were split from the genus Phoca, and some sources still give Phoca as an acceptable synonym for Pusa.

The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.

Extant Carnivora species

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