If we’ve learned anything from wildlife documentaries, it’s that ‘large’ terrestrial predators spend a lot of time sleeping!

Dingoes we GPS tracked in the lowland Wet Tropics spent up to 26 hours lounging about when they weren’t hunting in sugarcane fields. Their hunting patches were on the boundaries of their ranges, and hunts tended to last a few hours at most.

Below is an animation of tracking data from a female dingo who was ‘Mum’ to four pups. Although her official designation was ‘TD9’, we came to know her as ‘Jezebel’ after she was caught on camera trap in the company of numerous male dingoes. Locations were recorded every two hours. You’ll see that she and her pups spend most of their time in a few small areas in the forest. Once a day (roughly) she heads out into sugarcane fields to catch a meal.

Wildlife managers often focus on the importance of intensively used ‘core areas’ when considering habitat use by predators. Core areas are chosen somewhat arbitrarily, for example where 50% of locations occur. Because they are intensively used, these areas are often considered to be a priority for conservation (in the case of native species) or lethal control (usually for ferals).

However, while undoubtedly important, in some situations core areas only represent the places where predators sleep and rest. In the case of ‘our’ dingoes, a focus on intensively used areas completely overlooks the habitat in which they are most active (i.e. they move around the most) and where they source most of their prey.