Cape foxes are small foxes with somewhat slender bodies, the female typically being a little smaller than the male. Thick wavy hair makes up the underfur, and on top is a dense coat of guard hairs, black with light, silver-banded ends, and the coat is scattered with long, black sensory hairs. The fur on the face, neck, chest, and limbs is somewhat lighter, with a range from a pale reddish-brown color to tawny-brown or nearly white. On the backs of the thighs are distinctive dark patches, as well as a narrow dark strip at the muzzle's tip, and triangular marks between eyes and nose. On the face are freckles of white hairs, highly concentrated in patches on the cheeks. The fox's long, bushy tail looks completely black from a distance, much darker in comparison to the rest of the body, but on close inspection, the hairs have a darker tip and a buffy-white base. The reddish brown ears are particularly large and have fine white hairs on the edge.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (that is, the periods of dawn and dusk). This is distinguished from diurnal...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
A fossorial animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, ...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Monogamy is a form of relationship in which both the male and the female has only one partner. This pair may cohabitate in an area or territory for...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Cape foxes inhabit the sub-Saharan African desert. They range from the southern point of South Africa and Cape Province, northwards through Namibia, Botswana, Natal, Transvaal and into Albany, and also in the high mountainous area of Lesotho. They like open habitat such as dry savannas and semi-desert scrub, avoiding forests.
The Cape fox is a nocturnal creature and is most active during early morning and early evening. It typically shelters during the day in burrows underground, hollows, holes or dense thickets. It will excavate a burrow for itself, being an active digger, although it usually adapts to its specific requirements a burrow abandoned by another species, the springhare being one example. They are solitary animals, and although they pair up with a mate, they are often on their own, as they usually forage separately. These foxes are not especially territorial creatures but do mark their territories with strong scent. Although normally silent, the Cape fox can communicate with soft calls, chirps or whines. However, it will make a loud bark when it is alarmed.
Cape foxes are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals, particularly invertebrates, rodents and other small mammals, but as opportunists will also eat reptiles, rabbits, birds, young hares spiders, beetle larvae, eggs and carrion, fruits and most insects.
Cape foxes are monogamous animals and a pair mates for life. They breed at any time of the year, although they generally give birth from October to January. The gestation period is 51 to 53 days and one to six cubs are born. The litter is reared underground in burrows, and the cubs will remain close by the den until about four months old. At about six to eight weeks they are weaned, but they do not start to forage until the age of four months. Cubs are usually independent by five months when they will leave the den, generally around June or July. Both parents rear the young, and during the first two weeks after birth, the male will also provide for the female. Sexual maturity is reached at nine months old.
Cape foxes often die from diseases such as canine distemper and rabies, and more recently have died in traps intended for problem animals. Many of these foxes are killed by vehicles on the road. Many are hunted as vermin and may mistakenly thought to be jackals and blamed for livestock losses.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Cape fox total population size. According to the IUCN Red List specific populations of this species have been estimated in South Africa's Free State province with a size of 31,000 individuals. Currently Cape foxes are classified as Least Concern (LC) and their numbers today remain stable.
Through its predatory behavior, the Cape fox helps keep down the number of small mammals within their ecosystem.