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Description

Sometimes known as the Patagonian fox, is the second largest native canid on the continent after the Maned Wolf.

The culpeo is the largest of the South American foxes. Their overall size increases the further south in their range they live. Males are 10 - 15% larger than the females. Their coat is brownish-tawny colored, with paler undersides, and a generally greyish back, and their tail has a black tip. Distribution

The culpeo ranges along the entire length of western South America. It is found in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, with a small population in Columbia. The culpeo is more numerous in the southern parts of Argentina, with a strong population of over 200,000 individual animals. In northern Argentina, however, the culpeo is almost nonexistent. They prefer the pampas grasslands and deciduous forests of their range. Diet

Rodents and lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) are the most prominent in the culpeo's diet. They sometimes take young lambs a week old and younger. They are the main form of control of the rabbit population that was introduced to South America in the early 1900's. Depending on where they live, their diet can be almost 97% carnivorous to some areas where up to 30% of their diet is vegetable matter. Reproduction and life cycle

The mating period is from August to October. After a gestation period of 55-60 days, the female gives birth to 2-5 cubs in a den among the rocks. The father stays to help gather food for the nursing mother. The pups are a sandy color. When they are only a week old, they are already fighting to establish a hierarchy. The pups reach adulthood by autumn, at which point the males leave to establish their own territories, while the females stay with their parents. Their life expectancy, for some reason, is very short. Of 100 foxes studied in Chile, only five were older than 2 years. Social behavior

The culpeo society is a hierarchical matriarchy, since it is the females who fight for dominance. The dominant females inherit their territory from their parents, while the males have to search for their own territory. The dominant female in each territory has breeding rights, and subservient females must leave to establish their own territory to breed. The dominant female also feeds first. Courtship, which occurs during the winter, involved a lengthy ritual of mock-fighting. Human relations

The culpeo is hunted for its skins in Argentina and Bolivia, but this does not seem to be having an impact on their population. Subspecies

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     P. c. culpaeus
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     P. c. andinus
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     P. c. culpaeolus
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     P. c. lycoides
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     P. c. magellanicus
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     P. c. reissii
   *
     P. c. smithersi

References

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     Culpeo Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
   *
     Lioncrusher's Domain Culpeo (Pseudalopex culpaeus) facts and pictures.

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