That is not a little bear.
It is what Spanish Wikipedia, in last week’s post on the crab-eating fox, called the “deer dog”; however, when I checked into little old Speothos venaticus, I learned that one common name for it is “vinegar dog” (based on the odor of its scent marking).
Went with that for the title just to be able to tell you that, alas, “drawn-butter dog” has gone extinct. 🥁
(Hmmm. Guess I’ll keep my day job.)
We briefly met this critter back in December under the name “bush dog.”
They are not pretty — until you see them hanging out together:
It’s in Portuguese, but the views of this rarely seen canid are adorable!
Here is one in English:
There is very little solid information to be found online about the bush dog’s evolution or ecology, which is too bad since it is hypercarnivorous, as are cats.
How does it compete with its felid neighbors here?
- Did this small dog turn to water habitats because all the small cats (recently highlighted in the tropical cats series) outcompeted it on land?
- Does it stay small to avoid competition with the only water-adapted feline predator in these parts: the jaguar? (Pack behavior might help, too.)
- Did bush dogs evolve in the Americas because there are no equivalents here of Asia’s small feline water specialists?
Lots of questions — but very few answers yet.
A little lagniappe:
Featured image: Bernard Dupont via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0