Despite being called a wolf and resembling a fox, the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is not closely related to any other living canine and is the only member of the Chrysocyon genus.
Maned wolves are orange to reddish brown in color with long, black legs and an erectile mane that can be raised to make the wolf look larger. Maned wolves are the tallest wild canines in the world, and can stand up to 42 inches at the shoulder. However, they are quite lightly built and usually only weigh about 50lbs.
The maned wolf inhabits the open forests, grasslands and savannah of South America. Unlike true wolves, maned wolves do not form packs; they are usually extremely solitary animals that only socialize for mating purposes.
Maned wolves are true omnivores. Though they do hunt small mammals, birds and fish, over 50% of their diet is made up of fruits, vegetables and sugar cane. Maned wolves do not have any natural predators of their own, and mainly face threats from feral dogs, automobile strikes and habitat loss.
Maned wolves usually mate for life and together defend a large territory of up to twelve square miles. Despite sharing the same territory, monogamous maned wolf pairs rarely interact with one another directly outside of the mating season. Instead, they use urine to mark hunting paths or buried prey. The urine’s distinct smell, which has been likened to hops or even marijuana, has earned this animal the nickname “skunk wolf”.
Mating season for the maned wolf lasts from November to April, with the female giving birth to a litter of 2-6 pups after approximately two months. The pups are born black, but will gain their reddish-orange coloring and be fully grown within one year.
MANED WOLF FACTS
It is believed that the maned wolf developed long legs because of the tall grass in its savannah habitat.
Maned wolves are considered nearly threatened, with fewer than 4,500 individuals left in the wild.
Smithsonian National Zoological Park