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Wild Costa Rica:

the bush dog



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Published on Friday, September 15, 2023
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff





It wasn't until May 2019 that experts from Costa Rica's National University confirmed the presence of the bush dogs (Speothos venaticus) species in the country.




The discovery was made possible by video recording in hidden cameras installed in the Costa Rica zone of La Amistad International Park.


The park is a transboundary protected area shared between Costa Rica and Panama. It covers 400,000 ha of tropical forest and is the largest nature reserve in Central America.


Before the discovery of this mammal in Costa Rica, experts kept track of sightings of the animal between 2016 and 2018, but only in the Panamanian Amistad Park zone.


The rare canid was also found in tropical rainforests and wet savannas in South America. They are often associated with regions near water, such as swamps, rivers, and marshes.


The bush dog is the sole member of the genus Speothos within the family Canidae, making it a very distinctive and unique species among canids.


They are small, with a body length of about 22-30 inches and a shoulder height of around 2 8-12 inches. They have a distinctive short and stout appearance, with a reddish-brown to dark brown coat.




Bush dogs are known for their strong social bonds and typically live in packs, which can consist of up to 10 individuals. These packs are usually composed of a breeding pair and their offspring.


They are mainly crepuscular, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk. Bush dogs are skilled swimmers and are known to hunt in the water.


Their diet mainly consists of small mammals like agoutis, pacas, and capybaras, as well as birds and fish. They are skilled hunters and are known for their cooperation during hunts.


Bush dogs have a unique reproductive strategy. Females give birth to small litters, usually containing 2-6 pups. What's interesting is that all pack members, not just the parents, help care for and raise the young.


The mammals are classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their population is declining due to habitat loss caused by deforestation and human development. They are also vulnerable to diseases and roadkill.


Bush dogs are fascinating creatures, but they are not well-known because they are elusive and primarily active during low-light periods. Conservation efforts are essential to protect their habitat and ensure their survival in the wild.


Another fascinating animal in Costa Rica is the Royal Flycatcher, a small bird species known for its distinctive and elaborate crest.


On the Wild Costa Rica page, you might discover more about the fascinating species that make the Pura Vida country one of the most diversified in the world.


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