Dingo: All in the Family

music
ambience: Dingoes howling

The dingo is thought by some to be the ancestor of all domestic dogs. For thousands of years, dingoes were bed warmers, camp cleaners, hunting companions and guard dogs for their masters, Australian Aborigines. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. In the wild the Dingo has a very tight knit family structure. Lana Langdale is a keeper of Australian Mammals at the Taronga Zoo.

“What will happen is a male and a female will pair up as a permanent couple and, they will have a family unit. And what will happen is the male and the female will have a young litter and they will continue to keep the young females in particular with them. And the next, the next breeding season, they will use the young females to help bring up the next litter of puppies. So they have a very strong family unit. And the male will actually also help to look after the puppies as well. He will go and collect food, while the female stays in the den, and he will regurgitate food for the puppies as well. In fact it has been known for the female dingo to be shot and the father will continue to bring up the puppies until they’re fully-grown as well. So it’s a very strong family unit.”

But outside the family there is a keen competition for survival.

“Quite often dingoes live in a very arid environment where it’s tough to feed a large litter. So if she can prevent the other females from having puppies, there’s less competition for food and for space and that way, her puppies have more of a chance of surviving. Generally, if there is a lot of food available, most puppies in the litter will survive. If it’s a very tough season, sometimes you’ll get half of the animals — maybe even only one will survive if there is a drought, for example. So it’s really dependent on how much food is available.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Dingo: All in the Family

Dingoes are wild dogs with a surprisingly tight knit family structure.
Air Date:10/24/2002
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: Dingoes howling

The dingo is thought by some to be the ancestor of all domestic dogs. For thousands of years, dingoes were bed warmers, camp cleaners, hunting companions and guard dogs for their masters, Australian Aborigines. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. In the wild the Dingo has a very tight knit family structure. Lana Langdale is a keeper of Australian Mammals at the Taronga Zoo.

"What will happen is a male and a female will pair up as a permanent couple and, they will have a family unit. And what will happen is the male and the female will have a young litter and they will continue to keep the young females in particular with them. And the next, the next breeding season, they will use the young females to help bring up the next litter of puppies. So they have a very strong family unit. And the male will actually also help to look after the puppies as well. He will go and collect food, while the female stays in the den, and he will regurgitate food for the puppies as well. In fact it has been known for the female dingo to be shot and the father will continue to bring up the puppies until they're fully-grown as well. So it's a very strong family unit."

But outside the family there is a keen competition for survival.

"Quite often dingoes live in a very arid environment where it's tough to feed a large litter. So if she can prevent the other females from having puppies, there's less competition for food and for space and that way, her puppies have more of a chance of surviving. Generally, if there is a lot of food available, most puppies in the litter will survive. If it's a very tough season, sometimes you'll get half of the animals -- maybe even only one will survive if there is a drought, for example. So it's really dependent on how much food is available."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music