Dingoes make themselves at home in backyards

While Australians sleep, nocturnal dingoes are often skulking around their backyards, according to a new study in Landscape and Urban Planning.

The dingo, a type of dog, came to Australia about 5,000 years ago and never left. Dingoes now roam over most of the country, and some residents have come to regard them as a danger because they can attack people, pets, and farm animals.

To learn more about the animal’s habits, the study authors attached GPS collars to nine dingoes and followed their movements for 5 to 43 days in Queensland. The dogs were frequently found less than 200 meters from houses and didn’t stray more than 700 meters away. Some dingoes “often visited residential backyards and individual houses,” the team writes, and one of them “‘went from house to house’ during the night… presumably in search of rubbish bins, pet food, pets or perhaps just exploring her surroundings.” The animals were the most active after dusk.

The researchers also gathered 30 samples of dingo scat from parks, backyards, gardens, and sports fields. More than half of the samples contained pathogens such as tapeworms and hookworms, suggesting that the animals “might contribute to human health and safety risks,” the authors write. Roberta Kwok | 19 August 2013

Source: Allen, B.L. et al. 2013. Dingoes at the doorstep: Preliminary data on the ecology of dingoes in urban areas. Landscape and Urban Planning doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2013.07.008.

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