Australian Animals
and Birds

Some True Facts
about the

- Dingo -

The island of Tasmania is the only part of Australia where dingoes are not found, however, they can only live in areas where drinking water is available.

Dingoes are a kind of medium-sized dog. We think of them as Australia's special native dog, but either Aborigines or traders probably brought them to the country at least 15,000 years ago. The proper Aboriginal name for them is Warrigals. When 'white men' first came to Australia they heard Aborigines calling dogs dingoes. They thought they were referring to these sandy-coloured native dogs - but they were actually giving the 'white men's dogs' a name suggesting that they were inferior to their own.

Pure-bred dingoes cannot bark, though they do howl. They also differ from normal pet dogs in that their ears stand up and can never flop over.

Dingoes only have one partner for life and usually hunt at night, either singly or in pairs, for small mammals to eat, like rabbits, rats and small wallabies - though they will also eat insects and lizards. The puppies normally stay with their parents for about a year, but sometimes they can be up to 3 years old before leaving the family. When food is in short supply, a number of dingoes may hunt and work together to kill larger animals like sheep and kangaroos. Sheep-farmers think they are a pest, and the 'Dingo Fence', which is 5,600 km long (twice the length of the Great Wall of China) and runs east-west across the middle of the country with a gate every 19 km, is patrolled and maintained to minimize losses, repairing holes made by kangaroos and wild pigs.

Though park rangers try to stop people feeding dingoes, visitors to areas like camping sites continue to do so, and the animals in these places have become demanding, and sometimes attack people. Unfortunately, some young children have even been killed by them. Some dingoes have also bred with abandoned domestic dogs, started hunting in packs and become more aggressive than their pure bred relatives.