Distribution: Australian mainland
Habitat: All habitats except built up urban areas
Description: Dingos are a dog-like wolf. They have a long muzzle, erect ears and strong claws. They usually have a ginger coat and most have white markings on their feet, tail tip and chest. Their bushy tail is 25–37 cm long.
Diet: Dingos are carnivores and prey on a variety of animals, ranging in size from insects to rodents, lizards to geese, wallabies and kangaroos to buffalos. Packs of dingos have greater success hunting larger animals like kangaroos whereas individuals are better at hunting smaller prey like rabbits.
In the Wild: Dingos are often seen alone but many belong to a pack and meet every few days. When they do, there is a lot of howling and scent-marking. The pack’s territory size varies depending on the availability of prey so if there is a lot of food available their territory is smaller. Dingos are solitary hunters when small prey is abundant but hunt in packs when larger animals are available.
Threats: Dingos are under threat from interbreeding with domestic dogs. There are very few pure-bred dingos left in Australia. They may also be persecuted by farmers as they are sometimes seen as a threat to livestock or accidentally poisoned when they eat baits left for wild dogs.
At Perth Zoo: Two dingo pups arrived at Perth Zoo on 30 April 2011. The brother and sister are pure-breed Alpine dingos born on 13 March at the Australian Dingo Conservation Association in New South Wales. They are on display in the Australian Bushwalk.
Did you know? Dingos arrived in Australia some 3500–4000 years ago and eventually occupied all of the Australian mainland including some islands except Tasmania.
While dingos belong to the same family as dogs, there are differences. Dingos do not bark, they only breed once a year and they lack the distinctive ‘dog smell’ of domestic dogs.