I generally like my animals to be macabre, but look at those faces! That is the bush dog, one of the few canids indigenous to rainforests. Learn about these adorable little guys and their adorable little societies.
Bush dogs are the Smurfs of the rainforest. They live in peaceful, egalitarian communities that share labor and child-rearing and are almost entirely hidden from humans. People who live full time in the rainforest only occasionally get a glimpse of a bush dog. Even camera traps only rarely (once per decade rarely) get a picture of them.
They stay so well hidden because they literally head underground whenever they hear people coming. Bush dogs live in dens, and can be so well hidden that people will walk over them. Unfortunately, although the bush dogs can evade people, they can’t evade disease. Bush dogs are threatened by the same diseases that strike domestic dogs. The danger of disease to wild populations had led to captive breeding programs in order to ensure the survival of the species.
Surprisingly, the elusive and shy dogs do very well in zoos. They’re so social with each other that they rarely fight and readily breed. They’re especially happy in enclosures that have pools of water. They have webbed feet and scientists speculate that they hunt by chasing animals into the water, where they have the advantage over faster land mammals. So they spend their days following each other around, splashing in the water, and breeding up a storm in public.
Maybe they’re not entirely like Smurfs.