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a family of mammals of the order Carnivora. Canids range in length from 50 cm (small foxes) to 160 cm (wolf). The head is elongated, the muzzle is pointed, and the ears are erect. The tail is long and bushy. The forepaws have 5 toes, and the hind paws, four. The nails are blunt and nonretractile. The thick fur is usually fluffy and varies in coloration.
Canids comprise 14 (or 12) genera, embracing 29 species. They are widespread on all the continents except Antarctica. The USSR is the habitat of 5 genera, with the following eight species: the raccoon dog, wolf, jackal, arctic fox, Old World red fox, corsac fox, gray hoary fox, and Asiatic wild dog. Canids inhabit various types of terrain, living in burrows or dens. They feed primarily on animal substances, including carrion, but regularly eat plants as well. A single litter is produced per year, usually containing three or four blind offspring. (Occasionally a litter contains as many as 13 to 16 young.)
Most canids are hunted for their valuable fur (arctic fox. Old World red fox). A number of foxes, including the arctic fox, are raised in captivity (seeFUR FARMING). The greatest benefit of the mammals is that they destroy rodents that are agricultural pests. All domestic dog breeds belong to the family Canidae. Canids, especially the wolf, often kill useful mammals and birds, including domestic animals.
REFERENCESNovikov, G. A. Khishchnye mlekopitaiushchie fauny SSSR. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 1. Edited by V. G. Geptner and N. P. Naumov. Moscow, 1967.
I. I. SOKOLOV