Bat-Eared Fox

Unlike other canids, these small foxes are largely insectivorous in their feeding habits, hunting mainly locusts and termites, although they will also take bigger prey.

Bat-eared foxes have very large ears that listen for the movements of harvester termites. Their very thick fur coats protect the foxes from the painful bites of soldier termites that they encounter. Bat-eared foxes have 46 - 50 teeth, whereas most mammals have far fewer than this. Their teeth are used to slice up insects that have hard shells and pincers. With the ability to move their lower jaws up and down five times a second, insects are hurriedly chewed and eaten. The bat-eared fox also has very strong claws on its front feet, enabling it to dig very fast. They look rather like small jackals, and are often killed for this reason, although they pose no threat to domestic livestock such as sheep.

Bat-eared foxes are smaller than most canids They have huge ears and dark, bushy tails.

Living in pairs, these foxes inhabit areas of open woodland and grassland. A pair normally lives together with up to six offspring. Bat-eared foxes mate for life and have a home range that may be 0.25 - 3 sq km (0.1 - 1 sq miles) in size. The female gives birth at the start of the rainy season, when insect prey is likely to be most easily obtainable. The young leave the den for the first time when they are about two weeks old. Adults breed just once a year. Sometimes a second female will join the pair and share the breeding den. Individuals feed by walking long distances over their territories, continually listening for small invertebrates. When they hear something underground, they dig vigorously, catching the prey before it has a chance to get away.

Distribution: Occurs in East Africa, with populations in Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania, as well as further south, in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Angola.

Habitat: Open country, including short scrub, grassland, steppes, lightly wooded areas and farmland.

Weight: 3 - 4.5 kg (7 - 10 lb); males are slightly larger.

Length: 80 - 95 cm (32 - 37 in); up to 40 cm (16 in) tall.

Maturity: 8 - 9 months.

Gestation Period: About 60 days; weaning occurs at 5 weeks.

Breeding: 1-6 pups born from September to November.

Food: Largely insectivorous, the bulk of their diet consists of invertebrates; also catches small mammals, lizards and      birds.

Lifespan: 4-6 years in the wild; up to 13 in captivity.

Status: Common.

Fur colour

The fur is greyish-brown broken up with lighter yellowish areas, especially around the throat.

Ears

The remarkable ears are about 13 cm (5 in) long, and very broad. They help to locate underground prey.

Front paws

The front paws are often used for digging, helping to obtain prey or excavate a den.

Legs

The legs are a dark shade of brown.

DANGEROUS LIVING

The small size of the Bat-eared foxes means they are vulnerable not just to ground predators such as hyenas, but also to birds of prey.

Gallery of Bat-Eared Fox