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What species looks like a fox, walks like a deer, and barks like a dog? It’s not a riddle or a mythical creature. It’s the maned wolf—a spindly-legged, red-coated canid found in Brazil’s Cerrado grasslands. But despite its name and characteristics, the maned wolf isn’t a wolf at all. Rather, it’s the only member of a unique genus: Chrysocyon, meaning “golden dog.”
RANGE Central and eastern South America
WEIGHT Around 50 lb.
LIFE EXPECTANCY 12–15 years
THREATS Habitat loss due to land conversion for agriculture
HEIGHT About 3 ft. tall at the shoulder
Maned wolves eat small mammals, reptiles, and birds, but about half of their diet consists of fruits and vegetables. One of their favorite foods is the tomato-like fruit lobeira, or “wolf plant.”
While these nocturnal canids are largely solitary, they do form monogamous, lifelong bonds. Partners share overlapping territory, meeting only to mate during the breeding season.
Here’s how the towering height of the maned wolf compares to some other animals’.