A dingo on Fraser Island. Photo © Getty Images

A dingo on Fraser Island. Photo © Getty Images

The dingo is Australia's  wild dog. It is believed they came to Australia about 40,000 years ago, and perhaps even earlier. It is thought that their origins may go back to the south Asian grey wolf. Dingoes may have been brought to the country by Aboriginal peoples or by Indonesian or Southeast Asian fishermen.  

Aboriginal peoples kept dingoes in their camps and the dogs hunted with the men. In Aboriginal languages (there are many), words for 'dingo' include warrigal, maliki, noggum, boolomo or mirigung.   In some parts of Australia today some people keep a tame dingo as a pet dog.

Habitat and Distribution (where they are found)

Dingoes are able to adapt to many different habitats throughout Australia, but not Tasmania.  (Some people spell the plural of dingo as 'dingoes', others spell it 'dingos'. Both are OK!).

When European settlers established farming areas, they went to great effort to get rid of dingoes. Today dingoes are not so common in some parts of Australia.

Dingoes prefer woodland and grasslands close to forests, where there is available water.

Appearance

Photo©Getty Images

Photo©Getty Images

Dingoes are about 50 centimetres tall and about 120 centimetres long.  

A dingo has a bushy tail and pointed ears. 

Most dingoes have coats of short yellow -brown hair but there are cream-coloured dingos as well as black and tan.

One adaptation is in the dingo's coat: a dingo living in hot, tropical areas has a short single coat while a dingo living in cool to cold mountain areas has a longer and thicker coat with a double layer of fur.

Behaviours

A dingo howls, it does not bark. Photo©Getty Images

A dingo howls, it does not bark. Photo©Getty Images

Dingoes usually live in small family groups or a pack. Each dingo group has its own territory.

Dingoes hunt alone or with other dingoes to catch large prey. They can hunt in the day time, or at dawn/dusk , and in warmer climates/seasons, at night, usually depending on their habitat and climate.

Dingoes don't bark. They howl as a way of announcing where their territory is. They makemany different sounds to communicate within the group or to call pups that stray.

Diet

Dingoes eat almost anything. They hunt reptiles and mammals and will even eat insects. They also eat dead animals they find, and some kinds of plants.  

When Europeans arrived in Australia the dingoes hunted and killed the sheep and rabbits that the settlers brought with them.

A dingo pup ©Getty Images

A dingo pup ©Getty Images

Life Cycle

A dingo pair stays together for life. Dingoes mate between May and July (winter) and the pups are born 63 days later. The bitch gives birth to her pups in a den.

A litter of pups is usually about five. Both the male and the female care for their pups. They catch food and bring it to the pups until they are about 3 weeks old. Then the pups leave the den and are taught to hunt by their parents. The parents will still catch the prey for their young but they leave it somewhere near the den for the pups to hunt down.  

 

Dingo pups peeping out of the den ©Getty Images

Dingo pups peeping out of the den ©Getty Images