Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DINGOES


Dingoes are basically domestic dogs that aren't domestic anymore.  They maybe used to be domestic thousands of years ago, but now they are wild dogs.  You can find dingoes mostly in Australia, but there are also dingoes in Thailand.  And there are dingoes in zoos.  Also there are some other dogs, such as the New Guinea Singing Dog and the pariah dogs in India, that may be the same as dingoes, but scientists haven't figured out yet if they are or not.

In Australia, the dingo is an "apex predator," which means that it is at the top of the food chain and preys on other animals, but nothing preys on it.  This is because there are no big predators like lions or tigers in Australia.  One animal that dingoes really like to eat is sheep, and this means that dingoes are not very popular with sheep farmers.  The Australians even built something called a "dingo fence" to protect their livestock.  This fence is really, really long.  It goes all the way across the country, and it's even longer than the Great Wall of China!


Maybe you are wondering how the dingo got its name.  Well, I will tell you.  The colonists who went from Europe to live in the part of Australia called New South Wales heard the native people there use the word tingo to describe their dogs, so this is probably where the name dingo came from.  Native people in Australia have lots of different words for dingoes, but white people just use the one word, dingo.

Dingoes can be a bunch of different colors, but usually they are tan or reddish brown.  A lot of dingoes have white markings, and this means they probably have some domestic dogs in their family tree.


Sometimes dingoes bark, but they just have kind of short, boring barks.  The way they mostly communicate is by howling, although they don't howl as much as wolves do.  Dingoes howl most when pack members are separated from each other.  This is the dingo version of texting because it's how they tell each other where they are and what they are doing.


Dingoes are social dogs, and they like to live in packs.  In each pack, there is an alpha male and an alpha female.  These are the two that get to mate and have puppies.  All the other pack members are supposed to help raise the puppies.  If one of the other females in the pack has puppies, the alpha female will kill those puppies.  This seems pretty cruel, but it's the way things are done in the dingo pack.

What dingoes eat depends on what part of the country they live in and what the conditions are there, such as whether there is a drought or anything like that.  But some people who studied the diets of all the dingoes in Australia came up with ten things that 80% of them eat.  So here's the list of preferred dingo food:  Red Kangaroo, Swamp Wallaby, cattle, Dusky Rat, Magpie Goose, Common Brushtail Possum, Long-haired Rat, Agile Wallaby, and Common Wombat.


We don't have most of these animals in America, except for cattle, so I don't know what they taste like, but I'd like to find out!  I asked Mom if we could go to Australia to sample the cuisine, but she said it was too far to go and too expensive.  Besides which, she said the dingoes might just eat ME because I'm so small and sweet!  So I guess I will just stay home and eat regular dog food.

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