Bat-Eared Fox

Bat-Eared Fox

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Otocyon megalotis
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
6-13 yrs
TOP SPEED
112 km/h
WEIGHT
2-4.5 kg
LENGTH
46-66 cm

The bat-eared fox is a species of fox found in the African savanna. This fox is named for its ears which are huge in proportion to its head. It has a small face with a white, raccoon-like mask and a short, pointed muzzle. The Bat-eared fox’s body is ashy gray while its limbs, tail, and back parts of the ears are black in color. The belly and the undersides of the neck are comparatively paler in color. Every year the animal renews its coat by molting.

Di

Diurnal

No

Nocturnal

Ca

Carnivore

In

Insectivores

Te

Terrestrial

Al

Altricial

Bu

Burrowing

Vi

Viviparous

Pa

Pack hunters

Mo

Monogamy

Hi

Highly social

No

Not a migrant

B

starts with

We

Weird Animals
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

There are 2 subspecies of the Bat-eared fox in Africa. One is in the eastern part of Africa, stretching from Tanzania to southern Sudan and Ethiopia. The other subspecies is found in the southern part of Africa from Cape Peninsula and Cape Agulhas in South Africa to Angola and Zambia, reaching Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Bat-eared foxes are adapted to arid or semi-arid environments. They live in short grasslands, as well as the more arid regions of the savannas, along woodland edges, and in open acacia woodlands. They tend to hunt in short grass and low shrub habitats but will sometimes venture into areas with tall grasses and thick shrubs to hide when threatened.

Bat-Eared Fox habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

The habits of Bat-eared foxes largely depend on the area of their living. Thus, populations in the Serengeti region are most active at night while those in South Africa are nocturnal in summer and diurnal in winter. Bat-eared foxes are highly social animals, living in pairs or family groups. Family groups of these foxes include mated pair and their young. Pairs share the same den, foraging together and protecting each other. They can also rest together and lie in contact, social-groom, playing with one another. Bat-eared foxes are able to dig dens for themselves as well as dig the prey out of holes. However, in spite of being excellent diggers, they often prefer using burrows dug by other species such as aardvarks. Bat-eared foxes usually hunt in groups, often splitting up in pairs, with separated subgroups moving through the same general area. They locate prey primarily by auditory means, rather than by smell or sight. Foraging techniques depend on prey type, but the food is often located by walking slowly, nose close to the ground, and ears tilted forward. Visual displays are very important in communication among Bat-eared foxes. When they are looking intently at something, the head is held high, eyes are open, ears are erect and facing forward, and the mouth is closed. When an individual is in threat or showing submission, the ears are pulled back and lying against the head and the head is low. The tail also plays a role in communication. When an animal is asserting dominance or aggression, feeling threatened, or playing, the tail is arched in an inverted U shape.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Bat-eared foxes are carnivores (insectivores). About 80% of their diet can consist of dung beetles and harvester termites. The body fluids of these insects serve the bat-eared foxes as a water source. The foxes also feed upon chicks and the eggs of birds. In addition, their usual diet includes arthropods, small rodents, lizards, and vegetable matter.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
September-November
PREGNANCY DURATION
60-70 days
BABY CARRYING
2-5 kits
INDEPENDENT AGE
5-6 months
FEMALE NAME
vixen
MALE NAME
reynard, dog
BABY NAME
kit, cub, pup

Bat-eared foxes are monogamous, usually mating once in a lifetime. However, there are recorded cases of 2 females living with 1 male and a case of communal nursing. Breeding takes place in September-November. The gestation period lasts 60-70 days, after which the female gives birth to 2-5 babies. Both parents participate in rearing the babies. On the 9th day after their birth, the babies open their eyes while on the 17th day the youngsters begin to venture from the den. Sometimes the process of weaning lasts long: it usually starts when the babies are 1 month old and lasts about 2-3 months, during which the youngsters continue suckling from their mother. And finally, at the age of 5-6 months, the young are full grown. Reproductive maturity is reached at 9 months old.

Population

Population threats

Bat-eared foxes attract hunters for their pelts: in countries like Botswana, pelts of these foxes are highly valued, being a good source of income for local people. Another serious threat is the fragmentation of habitat. For example, farmland areas of Namibia hold a greatly reduced the population of these foxes, compared to national parks and protected areas. And finally, diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, and rabies, are among notable dangers to the Bat-eared fox population: outbreaks of rabies cause up to 90% mortality of this species.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Bat-eared fox is common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

The Bat-eared foxes control the harvester termite population in their habitat, eating up to 1.15 million termites per year.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Instead of drinking water, the Bat-eared fox obtains most of the moisture from its food.
  • These foxes have 48 teeth, which is more than these most mammals.
  • These animals have 9 calls by which they communicate with each other. They whistle softly as well as use their tails and ears as means of communication.
  • The Bat-eared fox can recognize individuals up to 30 m away. The recognition process has three steps: First, they ignore the individual, then they stare intently, and finally they either approach or attack without displays.
  • Not only does this fox remind a bat by its ears, but it also uses these ears for the same purpose as bats: it listens for insects. These foxes usually prey at night, walking around the area and listening carefully to hear the sound of scuttling prey.

References

1. Bat-Eared Fox Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat-eared_fox
2. Bat-Eared Fox on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15642/0

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