Cerdocyon thous 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae

Scientific Name: Cerdocyon thous
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Zorro, Savannah Fox, Common Zorro
Spanish Zorro, Perro de Monte, Perro Sabanero, Perro-zorro, Zorra Baya, Zorro Cangrejero, Zorro Carbonero, Zorro Común, Zorro de Monte, Zorro-lobo, Zorro Patas Negras, Zorro-perro, Zorro Perruno, Zorro Sabanero
French Chien des bois, Renard Crabier
Canis thous Linnaeus, 1766

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-08-13
Assessor(s): Lucherini, M.
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M. & Sillero-Zubiri, C.
Contributor(s): Courtenay, O., Maffei, L., Ramirez-Chaves, H., Thresher, S. & Hernandez, Y.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Hoffmann, M.
This species is listed as Least Concern as the Crab-eating Fox is relatively common throughout its range, occupying most habitats and although no estimates of population sizes are available, populations generally are considered stable.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is relatively common throughout its range from the coastal and montane regions in northern Colombia and Venezuela, south to the provinces of Entre Ríos and adjacent northern Buenos Aires, Argentina (35°S); and from the eastern Andean foothills (up to 2,000 m asl) in Bolivia and Argentina (67°W) to the Atlantic forests of east Brazil. Its known central distribution in lowland Amazon forest is limited to areas northeast of the Rio Amazon and Rio Negro (2°S, 61°W), southeast of the Rio Amazon and Rio Araguaia (2°S, 51°W), and south of Rio Beni, Bolivia (11°S). Tejera et al. (1999) recorded the first documented evidence from Panama, and since then additional records have come to light from elsewhere in the eastern part of the country. In recent years, range extensions have been documented in Venezuela (Hladik-Barkoczy 2013), Brazil (de Thoisy et al. 2013), Argentina (Fracassi et al. 2010) and Colombia (Ramírez-Chavez and Pérez 2015; these authors also commented on presence in Ecuador).

Few records exist in Suriname and Guyana. Records in French Guyana (Hansen and Richard-Hansen 2000) have yet to be confirmed (Courtenay and Maffei 2004). The previous citation of its occurrence in Peru (Pacheco et al. 1995) has since been retracted by the authors (Courtenay and Maffei 2004).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Colombia; Ecuador (Ecuador (mainland)); French Guiana; Guyana; Panama; Paraguay; Suriname; Uruguay; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Upper elevation limit (metres): 3000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The only population density estimate was produced in a coastal area of southern Brazil. Based on live capture-recapture data, a density of 0.78 individuals/km2 was estimated over an area of 8.9 km2 (Faria-Corrêa et al. 2009). No precise estimates of total population sizes are available, but populations generally are considered stable.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occupies most habitats including marshland, savanna, cerrado, caatinga, chaco-cerrado-caatinga transitions, scrubland, woodlands, dry and semi-deciduous forests, gallery forest, Atlantic forest, Araucaria forest, isolated savanna within lowland Amazon forest, and montane forest. There are records up to 3,000 m asl. It adapts well to deforestation, agricultural and horticultural development (e.g., sugarcane, eucalyptus, melon, pineapples, pastures) and habitats in regeneration. In the arid Chaco regions of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, it is confined to woodland edge and more open areas used by the Pampas Fox.

Vegetative habitats are generally utilized in proportion to abundance, varying with social status and climatic season. Radio-tagged foxes in seasonally flooded savannas of Marajó, Brazil, predominated in wooded savanna (34%) and regeneration scrub (31%); low-lying savanna was "avoided", and areas of wooded savanna "preferred", more by senior than junior foxes and more in the wet season than dry season (Macdonald and Courtenay 1996). In the central llanos of Venezuela, fox home ranges similarly shift to higher ground in response to seasonal flooding, though are generally located in open palm savanna (68% of sightings) and closed habitats (shrub, woodlands, deciduous forest, 32%; Brady 1979, Sunquist et al. 1989). In Minas Gerais, Brazil, two radio-tagged foxes (one male, one female) in different territories were observed most often at the interface of livestock pasture and gallery forest ("vereidas"; 82%) and in eucalyptus/agricultural plantations (8%; Courtenay and Maffei 2004). In Saõ Paulo state, Brazil, although 42.9% of presence records were at less than 100 m from forest fragments, its occurrence was not related to any specific landscape variable (de Barros Ferraz et al. 2010). Similarly, in a protected area located in the southernmost part of Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul state) it was observed in all sampled habitats (Faria-Corrêa et al. 2009). Crab-eating Foxes were more frequently recorded in the thicker habitats, the gallery forests and the shrubland without cattle, in the Iberá wetlands of northeastern Argentina (Di Bitetti et al. 2009). Eighty-eight Crab-eating Fox specimens collected by the Smithsonian Venezuelan Project were taken from prairie and pasture (49%), deciduous and thorn forest (19%), evergreen forest (17%), and marshes, croplands and gardens (15%; Handley 1976 as cited in Cordero-Rodríguez and Nassar 1999).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is of no direct commercial value as a furbearer due to the unsuitability of the fur which is coarse and short; however, pelts are sometimes traded as those of the South American Grey Fox in Argentina, and as those of the latter species and the Pampas Fox in Uruguay (Cravino et al. 1997, Courtenay and Maffei 2004). Current illegal trade is small as the probable consequence of low fur prices; in Paraguay, for example, no illegal fox pelts were confiscated from 1995 to 2000 (Courtenay and Maffei 2004).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main potential threat, albeit localized, is from spill-over pathogenic infection from domestic dogs. In the Serra da Canastra National Park, Brazil, Crab-eating Foxes raid human refuse dumps in close company with unvaccinated domestic dogs along park boundaries (Courtenay and Maffei 2004).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Legislation
It is listed on CITES – Appendix II. In Argentina, the Crab-eating Fox was considered "not endangered" by the 1983 Fauna and Flora National Direction (resolution 144), and its exploitation and commercial use was forbidden in 1987 (Courtenay and Maffei 2004). There is no specific protective legislation for this species in any country, though hunting wildlife is officially forbidden in most countries. Generally, there is no specific pest regulatory legislation for the Crab-eating Fox, but it is strongly disliked locally as a pest of livestock (poultry and lambs) leading to illegal hunting and consequential sales of pelts. In some countries, pest control is limited by specific quotas (without official bounties), although the system is often ignored, abused, or not reinforced (Courtenay and Maffei 2004). In Uruguay, hunting permits have not been issued since 1989 on the basis that lamb predation by foxes is negligible (Cravino et al. 1997, 2000).

Presence in protected areas
It occurs in a large number of protected and unprotected areas across its geographical range.

Presence in captivity
It is apparently present in many zoos and private collections throughout South America where it generally breeds well.

Gaps in knowledge
Little is known of the population status of this species in lowland Amazon forest.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Savanna -> 2.2. Savanna - Moist
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability: Marginal  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability: Suitable  major importance:No
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:No
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability: Suitable  major importance:No
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
suitability: Suitable  major importance:No
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Canis familiaris)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

Bibliography [top]

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Berta, A. 1987. Origin, diversification, and zoogeography of the South American Canidae. Fieldiana: Zoology 39: 455-471.

Biodiversitas (ed.). 1998. Livro vermelho das espécies ameaçadas de extinção da fauna de Minas Gerais.In: A.B.M. Machado, G.A.B. da Fonseca, R.B. Machado, L.M.S. Aguiar and L.V. Lins (eds), Fundação Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Brady, C.A. 1979. Observations on the behaviour and ecology of the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous). In: J.F. Eisenberg (ed.), Vertebrate ecology in the northern neotropics, pp. 161-171. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Cordero-Rodríguez, G.A. and Nassar, J.M. 1999. Ecological data on Cerdocyon thous in Barlovento region, State of Miranda, Venezuela. Acta Biologica Venezuelica 19: 21-26.

Courtenay, O. and Maffei, L. 2004. Crab-eating Fox Cerdocyon thous. In: Sillero-Zubiri, C., Hoffmann, M. and Macdonald, D.W. (eds), Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, pp. 32-38. IUCN / SSC Canid Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Cravino, J.L., Calvar, M.E., Berrutti, M.A., Fontana, N.A. and Poetti, J.C. 1997. American southern cone foxes: predators or prey? An Uruguayan study case. Journal of Wildlife Research 2: 107-114.

Cravino, J.L., Calvar, M.E., Poetti, J.C., Berrutti, M.A., Fontana, N.A., Brando, M.E. and Fernández, J.A. 2000. Análisis holístico de la predación en corderos: un estudio de caso, con énfasis en la acción de “zorros" (Mammalia: Canidae). Veterinaria 35:24-41.

de Barros Ferraz, K.M.P., de Siqueira, M.F., Martin, P.S., Esteves, C.F. and do Couto, H.T.Z. 2010. Assessment of Cerdocyon thous distribution in an agricultural mosaic, southeastern Brazil . Mammalia 74: 275–280.

De Thoisy, B., Vergara, M., Silvestro, P. and Vasconcelos, I. 2013. Northern extension of records of the crab-eating fox in Brazil. Canid Biology & Conservation 16.1: 1-3.

Díaz, G.B. and Ojeda, R.A. (eds). 2000. Libro rojo: mamíferos amenazados de la Argentina. pp. 106. Soc. Argentina para el Estudio de los Mamíferos, Buenos Aires.

Di Bitetti, M. S., Di Blanco, Y. E., Pereira, J. A., Paviolo, A. and Pérez, I. J. 2009. Time partitioning favors the coexistence of sympatric crab-eating foxes (Cerdocyon thous) and pampas foxes (Lycalopex gymnocercus). Journal of Mammalogy 90: 479-490.

Ergueta, S.P. and Morales, C. (eds). 1996. Libro rojo de los vertebrados de Bolivia. Centro de Datos para la Conservación, La Paz, Bolivia.

Faria-Corrêa, M., Balbueno, R.A., Vieira, E.M. and de Freitas, T.R. 2009. Activity, habitat use, density, and reproductive biology of the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) and comparison with the pampas fox (Lycalopex gymnocercus) in a Restinga area in the southern Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Mammalian Biology 74: 220-229.

Fracassi, N.G., Moreyra, P.A., Lartigau, B., Teta, P., Landó, R. and Pereira, J.A. 2010. Nuevas especies de mamíferos para el bajo delta del Paraná y bajíos ribereños adyacentes, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mastozoología Neotropical 17(2): 367-373.

González, E.M. and Martínez-Lanfranco, J.A. 2010. Mamíferos de Uruguay: Guía de campo e introducciópn a su estudio y comportamiento. Banda Oriental.

Hansen, E. and Richard-Hansen, C. 2000. Faune de Guyane. Guide des principales espèces soumises à réglementation. Roger Le Guen, Garies, France.

Hladik-Barkoczy, L.B. 2013. First camera trap record of crab-eating fox on Auyan Tepui, Venezuela. Canid Biology & Conservation 16.4: 12-15.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Macdonald, D.W. and Courtenay, O. 1996. Enduring social relationships in a population of crab-eating zorros, Cerdocyon thous, in Amazonian Brazil (Carnivora, Canidae). Journal of Zoology (London) 239: 329-355.

Pacheco, V., de Macedo, H., Vivar, E., Ascorra, C.F., Arana-Cardó, R. and Solari, S. 1995. Lista anotada de los mamíferos peruanos. Occasional Papers in Conservation Biology 2: 1-35.

Ramírez-Chaves, H.E. and Pérez, W.A. 2015. New record of crab-eating fox in southwestern Colombia, with comments on its distribution in Colombia and Ecuador. Canid Biology & Conservation 18.3: 1-9.

Rodriguez, J. V. 1998. Listas preliminares de mamíferos colombianos con algún riesgo a la extinción.

Sunquist, M. E., Sunquist, F. and Dancke, D. F. 1989. Ecological separation in a Venezuelan llanos carnivore community. Advances in Neotropical Mammalogy: 197.

Tejera, V.H., Araúz, J., León, V., Rodríguez, A.R., González, P., Bermúdez, S. and Moreno, R. 1999. Primer registro del zorro cangrejero, Cerdocyon thous, (Carnivora, Canidae) para Panamá. Scientia 14: 103-107.

Citation: Lucherini, M. 2015. Cerdocyon thous. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T4248A81266293. . Downloaded on 30 November 2015.
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