The most social animal family: Canids

Dogs, wolves, foxes and jackals make up the canidae family. Canids occur on every continent of the world, but are generally common in the Northern Hemisphere. The largest one is the gray wolf with a body length of 1.60 meters, and the smallest is the 24 cm long Saharan fox.

The friendship between dog and man goes back thousands of years. These two creatures, known to have been buried together at least 14 thousand years ago, learned to live together in a period of 10 thousand years. For even longer, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years ago, humans became companions with a species of wolf that is now extinct.

Domesticated dogs and wolves are members of a very large taxonomic family called canids (Canidae). Coyote wolf, jackal and fox are also included in this class. Domestic dogs are a subspecies called Canis lupus familiaris.

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Canids consist of 14 genera and 34 species. The smallest is the Fennec fox; its height is 24 cm, weight 1 kg; It lives in the Sahara deserts of Africa. The largest is the gray wolf; It reaches 80 cm in length and 160 cm in length. Their weight varies between 45-65 depending on whether they are male or female.

Where does it live?

All around the world. The coyote roams the forests and mountains of North America. The red fox lives in the meadows, forests, mountains and deserts of the Northern Hemisphere. The jackal is found in savannas, deserts and barren grasslands of Africa. Wolves are found on almost every continent of the Northern Hemisphere.

What are their habits?

Highly social canines travel in packs. However, they are extremely territorial and leave a scent as a sign. Even a domesticated dog shows its ownership of its garden by marking trees, bushes, and furniture.

The jackal is not as sociable as the others, it travels not as a pack but in pairs. The male-female relationship is long-lived, a feature rarely seen in mammals.

When the moon comes out, wolves, foxes, and other dogs are actually barking at each other, not at the moon. This is their way of communicating.

It is also not true that domesticated dogs only see black and white. In Italy, dogs are red/green color blind, according to a 2017 study of 16 dogs. Professor Marcello Siniscalchi from the University of Bari provides the following information on the subject: “If you are training your dog to catch and fetch the ball, do not throw a red ball on the green grass. Work with the blue ball”.

This trait may have been inherited from ancestors who did not need colours, probably because they hunted at dusk and dawn.

Also in 2017, according to a study published in Scientific Reports, domestic dogs use facial expressions a lot, especially when communicating with humans. The study showed that dogs are very sensitive to human attention. Juliane Kaminski, from the University of Portsmouth in England, said that domestic dogs have a unique history, they have lived with humans for tens of thousands of years, and their communication skills have developed during this time.

What do they eat, what do they drink?

Although dogs eat almost anything, they consume the most meat and are natural killers. They have strong paws, long legs for running fast, and sharp and pointed teeth for tearing meat. For example, wolves feed on deer, livestock, reindeer, beaver, hares. Coyotes eat smaller rodents, baby gazelles and monkeys.

How long do they live?

Individuals of the Canidae family give birth after a gestation period of 45-55 days. They often give birth to a large number of offspring; It was observed that the dogs gave birth to 15 puppies in one litter. Dogs’ lifespans vary depending on their breed. Wolves, coyotes, coyotes and domestic dogs live 10 years or more. Foxes have a lifespan of about 5 years.

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