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Sean Zeederberg

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As a young boy growing up on an agricultural farm in Zimbabwe, Sean spent every opportunity entertaining himself outdoors, camping in the local nature reserve and learning about all facets of the natural world. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental ...

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on How Do They Do It: The African Wild Dog Feeding Strategy

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Sean, you provided more information than I probably needed about the wild dogs capacity and needs for food. However it is fascinating to understand the adaptability of these animals to their species needs for survival. They are a formidable animal.

Wild dogs are such fascinating animals, William and I was hoping to be able to share a little extra info on them to help everyone else understand them a little better.

Thank you for this deeper dive, Sean. During the virtual safari where you were questioning this process I found myself wondering the same things: How do they know how much to regurgitate, do they even have any control over the quantity, do all the adults do it, or do they take turns so some can enjoy the full spoils of their hunt…? I’m looking forward to part two.

As an aside, we have a retired racing greyhound who is built similarly to the wild dogs, although more for cheetah like sprints versus wild dog marathons. His walking gait is a prance or trot very similar to theirs. It’s been interesting to learn his nutrition needs given the amount of exercise we give him. Even his behavior around eating has changed since he’s acclimated to being a house pet versus an athlete in a kennel. Being so lean, I notice a very obvious difference in his weight quickly if he’s had more exercise than typical, so I have to make adjustments to his meals. As usual, nature knows best, so the wild dogs have this natural balancing mechanism built into their natural behaviors. It feels like a big responsibility to be playing the role of Mother Nature when caring for our beloved pets.

I am hoping to address a lot of those questions in part two, so stay tuned for that.

That is so interesting. I can only imagine how things must fluctuate with him. Being a pure athlete every little bit would make a difference and I can only imagine how fast his metabolism is.

It’s amazing how the wild dogs can feed so many youngsters. I even know a pack of only three adults who are feeding 12 pups. They are really fascinating animals, constantly on the move and constantly hunting. Great to watch them.

It is amazing, Christa. I remember the pack of two adults in 2020 that were feeding 12 pups at one point.

Crazy how that all works! It’s no wonder they can consume so much at one time when they will be regurgitating a good portion of it…but then fast digestion? Guess they need to get to the pups quickly in that case! I had also wondered, and you mentioned it here, if they don’t chew much when I saw the pup in the virtual safari with a whole (nyala?) heart in his mouth! Fascinating animals.

It really is so interesting to see how it all works and get to know the intricacies of it all. They don’t chew at all, in fact, they just rip off chunks of meat and swallow it whole.

This report on the wild dogs is fantastic Sean, as are the accompanying photos. My question is if the wild dog needs at least 3800 calories a day to maintain their strength, and let’s say eat 4500 calories at a meal, that doesn’t leave much for regurgitation to feed 19 busy puppies when there are only 7/8 adults…. Granted, the pups aren’t hunting yet and spend their time sleeping and playing when not fighting for food, but soon they’ll need more as their bodies continue to grow. One question leads to another…..

That is exactly it, Denise. They are living on the energetic knife-edge. I will cover more on exactly this in my next blog.

Thank you so much Sean for sharing your information with us on the Wild dogs and their energetic lifestyle and feeding frenzies to be able to feed their pups. It is astounding to see how much they can eat at one sitting, and then to run back and regurgitate some of the meal for the pups. They certainly use up a lot of energy when out hunting.

They certainly do use us a lot of energy when they are hunting and therefore it makes sense that they need to eat so frequently.

While studying wild dogs in KNP in the 1970s, I came across two that had recently been killed by a speeding vehicle. Despite the tragedy, the dead animals provided abundant information. After weighing the animals at the lab, the stomach contents were removed and weighed. The stomach contents amounted to 16% and 19% of the dogs’ body weights.

That is really interesting, Allen. They are such fascinating animals and so being able to study them must have been an amazing experience.

Great deep dive on the eating/energy balance requirements of the African Wild Dogs. I find them endlessly fascinating, and this information only whets my appetite for more! Thanks Sean, and looking forward to part 2!!

I am also fascinated by the wild dogs and everything about them. I look forward to sharing part two with you soon.

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10 April, 2798
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