Canis lupus dingo
Dingo showing his teeth
The dingo is a medium sized, lean dog weighing between 13kg and 24kg, with males usually heavier than the females. An average male stands between 52cm and 63cm. Colouring of the short, dense coat varies depending on environment but can range from sandy to ginger to reddish to black to white. Usually dingoes will also have white markings on their feet, tail tip and chest. They have pricked ears for good hearing and a bushy tail.
Pure dingo skulls and jaw lines differ from domestic dogs and dingo hybrids as their forehead is flatter and the jaw line more square. Like wolves and other wild dogs, dingoes have larger carnassial and canine teeth than domestic dogs or dingo hybrids. Dingoes also only come into heat once a year, unlike the twice yearly, non-seasonal heat of domestic dogs. Another major difference between dingoes and their domestic relatives is vocalisations. Dingoes can growl, whine and howl but cannot bark.
The dingo is an opportunistic predator, primarily feeding upon mammalian species including kangaroos and wallabies, rabbits and rodents, sheep and cattle. Birds, lizards, fish and even human refuse contribute to the dingo diet. Dingoes are the primary mammalian carnivore in Australia and are appreciated for their help in controlling European rabbit populations.
Dingoes are gregarious and monogamous. Though they may spend a large portion of their life solitary, occasionally they will form packs of 3-10 individuals. These packs range from casual hunting groups to close-knit family packs.
Dingoes are thought of as being a native dog of Australia, however it is not truly a native species. In fact, there are no truly native Australian species of placental mammalian carnivores. Fossil and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that the dingo arrived in Australia about 3500-4000 years ago with Asian settlers on boats. Dingoes are believed by some to be descendants of the Indian grey wolf (Canis lupus pallipes). Dingoes can be found throughout most of mainland Australia (absent in Tasmania) in alpine, desert, woodland, grassland and tropical regions.