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The Maned Wolf is a tall canid, standing almost 3 feet tall at the shoulder and 4 feet in length and weighs 50 to 55 lb. The sides of the Maned Wolf are reddish to golden in color with black legs and a black muzzle. The underside of the tail and neck and the muzzle may have hints of white as well. The Maned Wolf also has a distinct, black mane which will erect when provoked or excited.
The Maned Wolf is native to Brazil, Paraguay, northern Argentina, Peru and eastern Bolivia. Habitat destruction through agricultural development threatens the species. The effects of agriculture -- overgrazing by cattle, annual burning of pasture and soil erosion -- leave less food and territory for the Maned Wolf. As such, it is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and by the Brazilian Government. It lives in tropical savannah and tropical scrub forest. The Maned Wolf's long legs are believed to have adapted to help it see over the tall grasses of the South American savannah.
The Maned Wolf is an omnivore. It will eat meat including rabbits, rodents, lizards and other small creatures. Its favorite meat is the wild guinea pig. However, fruits are a large fraction of its diet. It has sharp, canine teeth for shearing meat, and it has broad, flat molars for eating fruit. The favorite fruit and preferred food of the maned wolf is the lobeira (tomato-like fruit or Wolf Apple), which is said to help aid in kidney health. Maned Wolves will also eat other vegetation. They hunt mainly at dusk and at night, and catch their prey with a swift, high pounce. The Maned Wolf will occasionally dig a small creature out of its burrow. Prey on livestock is rare, although newborn lambs, young pigs, chickens and rarely carrion can be preyed upon.
Maned wolves are not social creatures and unlike other wolves, they do not live in packs. Maned Wolves are monogomous, meaning that they take only one mate for life. The male and female are known to share a territory yet only come in contact during mating season. Maned Wolves are nocturnal creatures and only hunt at dusk and at night. They rarely move during the day. The Maned Wolf has three types of communication. The first being a high-pitched whine and the second being a low growl. The last is what is known as a "roar-bark" which is a low, gutteral bark used to communicate over long distances. Maned Wolves are shy, timid creatures and pose little to no threat to man. The maned wolf will mark its territory with urine, which has a strong odor, that warns other animals to keep away. Maned Wolves have an unusual gait in which it moves both legs on one side of its body at the same time which gives it a characteristic rolling or rocking motion.
The breeding season of the Maned Wolf occurs between late Spring and early Summer. Its mating habits have been observed only in captivity. The female takes charge in mating by bowing in front of the male and rubbing against him while she pounds her forepaws on the ground. The female gives birth to four to five cubs in her den. The cubs are fully grown in about a year, and usually mate after they are two years old. Captive Maned Wolves live between 12 to 15 years. Their lifespan in the wild is unknown. In captivity, the father has been known to also care for the cubs and take an active role in parenting.
The Maned Wolf is said to have supernatural and medicinal powers. The right eye is believed to bring good luck with gambling. It is also thought that a necklace made from the teeth of a Maned Wolf worn by children will prevent future dental problems. Also, it is believed that its gaze can kill a chicken.