Tibetan sand fox, Tibetan fox, Tibetan sand fox
The Tibetan fox (Vulpes ferrilata ), also known as Tibetan sand fox, is a species of true fox endemic to the high Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh plateau, Nepal, China, Sikkim, and Bhutan, up to elevations of about 5,300 m (17,400 ft). It is listed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, on account of its widespread range in the Tibetan Plateau's steppes and semi-deserts.
The Tibetan sand fox is a small widespread fox native to steppes and semi-deserts of the high Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh plateau, Nepal, China, Sikkim, and Bhutan. It has a soft, dense coat and conspicuously narrow muzzle, and bushy tail. Its muzzle, crown, neck, back, and lower legs are tan to rufous colored, while its cheeks, flanks, upper legs, and rumps are grey. Its tail has white tips. The short ears are tan to greyish tan on the back, while the insides and undersides are white.
Tibetan sand foxes are restricted to the Tibetan Plateau in western China and the Ladakh plateau in northern India. They occur north of the Himalayas in the northernmost border regions of Nepal and India, across Tibet, and in parts of the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Xinjiang, Yunnan, and Sichuan. They live in upland plains and hills and their habitat consists of semi-arid to arid grasslands and shrubland, well away from humans or from heavy vegetation cover.
Tibetan sand foxes live in small family groups that consist of a mated pair and their young; however, they prefer to spend their time singly. They are not territorial and often several pairs may leave close to each other and even share hunting grounds. Tibetan sand foxes live in dens where they rest throughout the day, raise their young or hide when feeling threatened. Their dens are made at the base of boulders, at old beach lines and low slopes. Dens may have four entrances, which are 25-35 cm in diameter. Tibetan sand foxes hunt by day as their main prey, pikas, are diurnal. They may even form commensal relationships with brown bears during hunts for pikas. The bears dig out the pikas, and the foxes grab them when they escape the bears.
Tibetan sand foxes are carnivores and scavengers. They primarily prey on Plateau pikas, followed by rodents, marmots, woolly hares, and lizards. They also scavenge on the carcasses of Tibetan antelopes, musk deer, blue sheep, and livestock.
Tibetan sand foxes are monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. After a gestation period of about 50 to 60 days, females give birth to 2-4 kits in a den. The young are altricial; they are born blind and helpless and stay with their parents until they are 8 to 10 months old.
Tibetan sand foxes don't face major threats at present.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Tibetan sand fox total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
Tibetan sand foxes control small rodent populations through their feeding habits and when digging their dens they may also help to aerate the soil throughout their range.