Blanford's Fox

Blanford's Fox

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Vulpes cana
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
4-10 yrs
WEIGHT
1.5-3 kg
LENGTH
38-80 cm

Blanford's fox is a small fox native to the Middle East and Central Asia. It has wide ears and a long, bushy tail nearly equal to the length of its body. The body is brownish-grey in color, fading to light yellow on the belly. The winter coat is soft and woolly, with a dense black undercoat and white fur speckles in the dorsal area; together with a somewhat thicker layer of fat, it serves as thermal insulation in cold and dry winter. The summer coat is less thick, the fur is paler, and the white hair is less noticeable. A characteristic mid-dorsal black band extends caudally from the nape of the spine, becoming a mid-dorsal crest along the length of the tail. The tail is the same color as the body. A black spot is found at the base of the spine. The tip of the tail is normally black, but it is white in some individuals. Juveniles have similar markings as adults, but their fur is darker and more grayish.

Distribution

The Blanford's fox has a rather discontinuous range. Initially known only from southwest Asia, this species was reported in Israel in 1981 and was later found to be more widespread in the Arabian Peninsula. The eastern part of the range included the Iranian Plateau in Iran, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. In the Middle East, their range includes Jordan, the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Blanford's foxes have long been suspected of occurring in Yemen and have been reported in Hawf Forest, Al Mahra Governorate, in the far east of Yemen, near the border with Oman. They generally inhabit mountainous regions and were also reported in the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah and Jebel Hafeet in the UAE, and in Saudi Arabia. In some areas of their range, Blanford's foxes occur in dry and hot regions such as valleys and deserts.

Blanford's Fox habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Blanford's foxes are strictly nocturnal and this activity pattern is most definitely an anti-predator response to diurnal raptors. During the day they remain inside their caves, dens, or other rocky shelters. They are almost always solitary foragers and only occasionally may feed in pairs. Unlike other fox species, they seldom cache food. Blanford's foxes have an ability to climb rocks and jump to ledges 3 m (9.8 ft) above them with ease, and regularly climb vertically crumbling cliffs by a series of jumps up vertical sections. They use their sharp, curved claws and naked footpads for traction on narrow ledges and their long, bushy tails as a counterbalance when jumping or climbing.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Blanford's foxes are omnivores, primarily insectivores, and frugivores. Insect prey includes beetles, locusts, grasshopper, ants, and termites. They also consume wild fruits and plant material of date palm. In Pakistan, their diet includes Russian olives, melons, and grapes.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
January-February
PREGNANCY DURATION
50-60 days
BABY CARRYING
1-3 kits
INDEPENDENT AGE
3 months
FEMALE NAME
vixen
MALE NAME
reynard, tod
BABY NAME
kit, cub, pup

Blanford's foxes are monogamous and form pairs. Their breeding season typically occurs between January and February. The gestation period lasts around 50-60 days, and litter size is 1 to 3 kits. The young are born blind, with soft, black fur, with and weigh 29 g. They are nursed by their mother for 30-45 days. At the age of 2 months, the kits start to forage with one of the parents, and at 3 months of age, they begin to forage on their own. Reproductive maturity is reached at the age of 10-12 months.

Population

Population threats

Blanford's foxes don't face major threats at present. However, local populations suffer from habitat loss and fur hunting. Blanford's foxes are also vulnerable to the diseases of domesticated dogs and occasionally they may take poison intended for hyenas and other species.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Blanford's fox total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Blanford's fox is named after the English naturalist William Thomas Blanford, who described it in 1877.
  • The scientific name of the Blanford's fox, 'cana', comes from Latin and means 'hoary'; so the scientific name means 'hoary fox', corresponding to one of its vernacular names.
  • Large ears of the Blanford's fox is an adaptation to enhance heat dissipation. However, unlike other desert foxes, it does not have pads covered with hair, and it has cat-like, curved, sharp claws described by some authors as semiretractile.

References

1. Blanford's Fox on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanford%27s_fox
2. Blanford's Fox on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/23050/48075169

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