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What is a short-eared dog? Candid Animal Cam meets one of the most elusive mammals of the Amazon


Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting one of the most elusive mammals of the Amazon basin: the short-eared dog.

The short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis) can be found in the South American Amazon rainforest region of Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and possibly Venezuela. It lives in both lowland forests as well as in swamp forests, bamboo stands and cloud forests; however, it prefers areas with little human disturbance. This unique creature has adapted to wetland habitats by developing partially webbed paws. The thin membrane between the dog’s toes makes them great swimmers. Unlike many canine species throughout the world, the short-eared dog does not form packs. Instead, it lives a solitary life only pairing up with females during the breeding season. Watch the video to learn more about this elusive canid!

Special thanks to wildlife conservationist Sean M. McHugh and Sani Lodge for sharing their footage with us. The videos were obtained during his research with Operation Wallacea (Opwall) at Sani Isla in Ecuador. Sani Isla has 42,000 hectares of primary rainforest which lies on both sides of the Napo River. Based on McHugh’s research, the short-eared dog proved to be incredibly challenging to monitor with naturally low densities (even in a highly intact forest) along with the infrequent use of trials. The footage was obtained with off-trail camera traps, deep in the forest.

A few weeks ago, the Ecuadorean Amazon was devastated by a massive oil spill on the Coca and Napo rivers. McHugh has a fundraiser to help the indigenous communities in Sani and other neighboring communities that have been affected by the spill by providing them clean water and food supplies. If you would like to help, please visit their page.


Banner image: short-eared dog courtesy of Sean M. McHugh.

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Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_Castagnino