Preview: Dogs in the Wild – Meet the Family

Dogs in the Wild

Dogs in the Wild follows the canid’s extraordinary survival strategies and how they allow them to thrive across the globe.

In the second episode of the series, we explore the secrets to the canid’s success. Secrets that allow them to survive in the most extreme locations, raise families and find food in most unexpected ways.

In the biting cold of the frozen North lives one of the most iconic wild dogs, the Arctic fox. In early winter when temperatures drop to minus 27 degrees centigrade, the Arctic fox must rely on its flexible diet to find enough food in this seemingly barren landscape, by hunting lemmings and feeding on frozen berries.

One of the most athletic wild dogs of all, the black-backed jackal, uses its incredible agility to thrive in the Kalahari Desert. At a waterhole the jackals peform extraordinary leaps to catch birds from the visiting flocks, racing round the waterhole and jumping high into the air to try and make a catch to share with its young family. Both awe-inspiring and comical the jackals suffer the indignity of getting only a mouthful of feathers plenty of times before a successful hit!

For some wild dogs’ life can throw them bad luck. A female swift fox whose mate has recently died is left to raise her young litter of pups alone on the prairies of Wyoming. Luckily the swift fox is one of the only wild dogs who uses a den all year round to keep them safe from predators such as coyotes and eagles. By maintaining the den and masking her scent this female works hard to ensure the safety and survival of her young family.

In a backyard in Texas, one wild dog has retained an ancient skill, allowing them to live a life high in the trees: climbing! A litter of young gray fox pups must learn to put their adaptations such as rotating forearms and semi-retractable claws to the test and learn to get to grips with climbing vertical tree trunks and keeping balance in the boughs of trees. This skill will keep them safe especially when faced with danger from another canid, the coyote!

For many wild dogs, the power of the pack is key but how do you make collective decisions when you live in a large group? Believe it or not, recent research suggests that African wild dogs may use sneezing as a form of communication which allows them to vote on whether to move off from a location and hunt or to stay and rest.

Wild dogs can even thrive in some of the most built-up locations on Earth. In Tokyo the tanuki, otherwise known as the raccoon dog, thrives in the heart of the city by foraging in parks and even in the gardens of the many temples found in the city. From the bustling city to the frozen North, the blazing hot desert to the tree-tops of Texas, wild dogs can be found across the planet and thrive thanks to their extraordinary secrets of the success.

Dogs in the Wild – Meet the Family

Wednesday at 8.00pm on BBC One.

Image: BBC NHU.

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