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Scientific Classification

Canis lupus dingo

The Dingo or Canis lupus dingo is known as Australia’s wild dog and lives in the dry plains and outskirts of forests of Australia. The theories of where dingoes originated are varied and usually they are thought of as descendants of domesticated dogs that were brought to Australia thousands of years ago. The dingo’s color is usually ginger, although black, white, or tan have been recorded by researchers. [1]


The dingoes are a medium sized dog that have short yellowish or tan fur mixed with light black and cream colored fur. It has ears that are sometimes referred to as big, but really aren't, being slightly smaller than those of a German shepherd. When fully grown, they have very keen senses and lead some to state that Dingoes have a sixth sense. These dingoes can bark, but usually prefer howling over barking unless danger has arisen in the midst of a pack. Dingoes are carnivores and eat larger animals and sometimes travel in packs.[2]

Dingoes are known to be the native dogs of Australia, and being the largest carnivore. They are known for their ginger tan coloring, though roughly four percent of dingoes are black with tan points. [3]


The breeding season for Dingoes is from March to June. While competing for mates against other dingoes, male dingoes will lose up to a third of their body weight. An Alpha male can produce with his female a litter of three to six pups about sixty three days after mating. If an inferior female produces a litter, the alpha female will execute the litter so pack efforts can be concentrated on her own puppies. The puppies must rely on their mother for milk and nutrition until they are three weeks of age and continue to be guarded by the pack like one big happy family. Like birds, the puppies will generally be fed regurgitated solid foods that are easier for them to digest and prevent them from choking. Males reach sexual maturity at one and half years old and females reach it in two years. The dingo’s life span has been documented as three years minimum, five years maximum, and fifteen years is the verified record.[4] Dingoes breed about once a year and after the conception period of 63 days the female gives birth to two to nine pups; three to five pups are most normal and the pups are born in a den formed inside a hollow log or enlarged wombat burrow amid thick vegetation. Dingoes use caves when they can be found. [5]


A Dingo strolling through its natural habitat slowly, very aware of its surroundings.
Dingoes range all through mainland Australia, occupying a variety of habitats including alpine forests, deserts, coastal shrub, and tropical rain forests. The dingoes usually hunt in packs, but sometimes alone; and are nocturnal, which means they are awake at nighttime and sleep during the day. The dingoes are carnivores, which means they eat meat such as rats, kangaroos, wallabies, large mammals of any kind, reptiles, carrion, insects, possums, wombats, pigs, goats, birds, rabbits, lizards, and some farm animals. They swallow meat in large chunks without chewing thoroughly.[6]

“Its absence from the island state of Tasmania suggests that it did not arrive in Australia until the land bridge joining the island to mainland was flooded by the rising sea level eleven thousand years ago”.

The dingoes are very territorial, especially alpha males and alpha females. The dingoes have two strategies for capturing their prey, hunting alone, and surrounding the prey to attack or kill. The hours of dawn and dusk are when the dingoes are most active. [7] The dingo can also be known as an opportunistic feeder, which means the dingo’s diet is whatever is available in its specific habitat and is really not particular about its food.[8]


The warning sign of the vicious dingo, Lake McKenzie, Queensland

On Aug 2004, Environment Minister Bob Debus reintroduced a plan to initiate aerial baiting in the northern end of Koscisuzko National Park to aid in the extinction of the Quoll and Dingo.[9] Such programs are reminiscent of actions conducted in Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s that led to the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine). The Tasmanian government paid £1 a head for the Thylacines (10 shillings for pups). In all they paid out 2,184 bounties, but it is thought that many more Thylacines were killed than were claimed. Its extinction is popularly attributed to these relentless efforts by farmers and bounty hunters.

In response to the plan put forth by Bob Debus, Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for wilderness issued a statement saying; "We need carefully thought through wild dog management that protects Dingoes and tiger quolls; not this knee jerk extinction program." "Throwing meat baits laced with one thousand and eighty poisons out of helicopters kills dingoes and threatened Tiger Quolls, as well as wild dogs." "Aerial baiting will also increase the dominance of wild dog-fox-cat regime with populations of dingoes and quolls, and two reasons for the low populations of Quolls in northern Kosciuszko are the recent fires and past pest control efforts that have killed them off." "If you want to make Dingoes and Quolls become extinct in the region, then the Minister's aerial baiting program would be exactly the way to go about it," said Mr. Muir. [10]


Related References