Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
5400 North Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA 98407
Memphis Zoological Garden and Aquarium
2000 Galloway Ave.
Memphis, TN 38112
Within the family Canidae, determination of minimum husbandry
needs of medium (20-35
lb/9-16 kg) and large (over 35 lb/16 kg) species is variable because of differences in size,
morphology and behavior. In this discussion, medium or large canids are defined as any
species of canid belonging to the genus Canis, including the side-striped jackal, Canis
adustus; golden jackal, C. aureus; black-backed jackal, C. mesomelas; Simian jackal, C.
simensis; coyote, C. latrans; red wolf, C. rufus; dingo, C. familiaris dingo; gray or timber
wolf, C. lupus; domestic dog, C. familiaris (and timber wolf x dog hybrids); as well as the
dhole, Cuon alpinus; maned wolf, Chrysocyon brachyurus; and African wild dog, Lycaon
All canid species are cursorial. In addition, all canid
species form a pair bond which is an
exclusive male/female association during the breeding season. In canids, the pair bond
usually extends throughout the pup-rearing period. These two factors make most species of
canids particularly susceptible to the development of stereotypic, abnormal behavior such as
pacing when confined to small enclosures or when isolated from conspecifics. Modern
methods of contraception and the fact that canids are seasonally monestrous make it
relatively easy to house male/ female pairs together for most of the year, even when
reproduction is not desirable. Care must be taken in the design of all housing, however, to
insure that animals cannot escape or dig out. Caution should also be exercised when handling
otherwise "tame" individuals.
Some aspects of captive management for all medium and large
canids are similar and
discussed below. Requirements unique to certain groups are listed separately.
A.Temperature - Although medium and large canids
originate fromall manner of
climates, most species are tolerant of broad temperature extremes, at least during
daylight hours. Animals kept outside should always have access to shade, especially
during warmer parts of the year. When acclimated, most species without young only
require minimal, unheated shelters at night; in cold climates, wooden pallets should be
provided for sleeping to prevent the loss of body heat. Dens should be dry, small, and
cramped. If animals are given spacious dens, smaller "hide" boxes should also be
provided. These smaller boxes enable individuals to retreat or fend off conspecifics.
When breeding is a possibility, a separate den or hide box should be present for each
pregnant female. All artificial shelters for tropical species should have a space heater
for use in winter. Most temperate zone canids are well adapted for winter weather
although supplemental heat encourages females to give birth within the den area. It
also provides a warm dry area regardless of the rest of the enclos ure. In spacious
enclosures, canids often dig several extensive subterranean dens.
B.Lighting - Natural lighting is optimal for
all species of canids. When needed,
fluorescent lighting is an efficient light source for full-spectrum illumination.
C.Ventilation and Humidity - Indoor exhibits
should have a negative air pressure, with a
regular air change of non- recirculated air. Relative humidity should be within the
range of 30-70%. Separate air handling systems should be maintained between the
visitor and animal exhibit area to prevent possible disease transmission and complaints
D.Water - Fresh clean water for drinking should
be available at all times. Watering
devices should consist of either built-in devices or sturdy portable containers.
Regardless of size, water containers should be cleaned and disinfected daily. Some
canids enjoy bathing and swimming, and pools should be incorporated into outdoor
enclosures, space permitting.
E.Sanitation - Hard-surface enclosures, pallets,
and food containers (if used) should be
cleaned daily with detergents and disinfectant. Dirt substrates in outdoor exhibits
should be raked and spot-cleaned daily. Foot baths should be used prior to entering
and exiting all canid enclosures or areas containing enclosures. Each should be filled
with a disinfectant and its use strictly adhered to by all personnel.
F.Enclosure dimensions - Enclosure sizes vary
according to species and social group.
As a general rule, a single large canid should have an enclosure measuring at least 10
ft. (3.1 m.) x 15 ft. (4.6 m.). or 150 sq.ft. (14 sq.m.). For each additional animal, the
enclosure should be increased by 50%.
A single medium canid should
have an enclosure measuring at least 8 ft. (2.5 m.) x 12
ft. (4.7 m.) or 96 sq. ft. (9 sq. m.). For each additional animal, the enclosure should
be increased by 50%.
G.Barriers - Perimeter barriers should be least
8 ft. (2.5 m.) high and include an
inward-facing overhang, the top protected by either electric cable or a 45-degree
overhang. In addition to vertical barriers, all perimeters should also have either a
concrete footing or horizontal protective mat around the entire enclosure. Most
medium- and large-sized canids are prolific diggers and can easily tunnel under a
chainlink fence. Where feasible, enclosures should be designed without square
H.Food - Medium and large canids are easily
maintained when fed commercially- or
custom- made diets. Commercial preparations containing all necessary vitamin and
minerals are readily available, or may also be custom-made by the holding institution.
On a daily basis, canids require 1-3 kg. of high quality, low-fat diet per 25 kg. of
body weight. Whole animals used as feed should be limited to freshly killed carcasses,
and should be removed at regular intervals. Diets containing high percentages of fowl,
and especially ones containing chicken or turkey necks, should be avoided due to
inadequate levels of calcium and phosphorus.
The quantity of rations fed
will also depend on individual condition and whether or not
feeding is communal or done on an individual basis. Where communal feeding is
practiced, weights of subordinate animals and juveniles must be closely monitored.
Obesity also occurs where communal feeding is practiced, and fasting all members
one day a week may be used for weight control.
Milk substitutes used to
hand rear infants should be specifically formulated for canids.
Milk replacers should contain low levels of lactose to prevent eye problems.
I.Veterinary Care - Services of an experienced
veterinarian should be available to all
holders of non-domestic canids. When circumstances permit, an overall examination
should be performed annually, and blood samples collected, serum banked as a
baseline control, and the results recorded. Fecal examinations should be made twice a
year to check for parasite infestation. Infant canids are especially susceptible to
parasite infection and should be screened monthly during their first six months. Routine
deworming with a broad spectrum antihelminthic at six and eight weeks of age is
highly recommended. Preventative heartworm medication should be given to all canids
housed in areas where this parasite is prevalent, and an occult heartworm test
All canids should receive
annual prophylactic vaccinations for protection against
canine distemper and parvovirus; modified live virus (MLV) products should be used.
For protection against rabies, wild canids should be vaccinated with a killed virus
(KV) product. Vaccination for leptospirosis, parinfluenza, and hepatitis is not
generally required but if deemed necessary, should be given, and from KV products
only. If MLV products are used for vaccination, vaccine-induced cases of these
diseases may result.
Fleas can be a problem in
some areas and should be controlled by spraying the
enclosure with an approved commercial insecticide.
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