Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

The behavioural ecology of dingoes in north-western Australia. II. Activity patterns, breeding season and pup rearing

PC Thomson

Wildlife Research 19(5) 519 - 529
Published: 1992


This paper reports aspects of a long-term study (1975-84) of the ecology, social organisation and behaviour of dingoes, Canis familiaris dingo, on the lower Fortescue River in Western Australia. In all, 170 dingoes were fitted with radio-collars and tracked from aircraft. Dingoes were sighted during 59% of the 13 618 occasions that they were being radio-tracked during the day. Radio-tracking yielded 31 229 daytime and 3016 night-time locations of radio-collared dingoes. The average duration of radio contact with 146 dingoes was 9 months (range 1-35 months). Dingoes were most active around sunrise and sunset, moderately active during the night, and least active during the heat of the day. Travelling (local meandering and more purposeful movement) was the most commonly witnessed activity. Levels of scent-marking (raised-leg urination and ground-scratching), howling and general activity increased over the 2-3 months prior to the mating period, suggesting that dingoes may have a long pro-oestrus (1-2 months). Whelping took place from mid-May to mid-August (mean date 18 July). The characteristics of natal dens are described. The pattern of activities associated with pup-rearing, including alloparental behaviour, closely followed that of related canids.


© CSIRO 1992

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