The foxes live in male-female pairs, and these pairings persist until one partner dies. Although they travel and den in pairs, they hunt alone. The pair will defend a territory, which grows during the dry season as food becomes more scarce. During this time of year, the territories of breeding pairs overlap considerably. Breeding may take place at any time of the year, although it is most common in it late summer. The pups are weaned by about 90 days. Both parents share the task of finding food for the young and guarding them until they become independent, which occurs some five to six months after birth.

Crab-eating fox

The crab-eating fox inhabits woodland and grassland in the highlands around the Amazon Basin, although it is also found on the fringes of the region’s lush lowland rainforests. It ranges from Columbia and Venezuela in the north to Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina in the south.

The first specimen of this fox ever examined had a crab in its mouth hence the common name, but in fact crabs are only one item in a wide-ranging diet. This fox is also known as the common zorro. Mainly nocturnal and solitary, the crab-eating fox spends the day in a shelter, often a burrow abandoned by another animal.

Crab-eating foxes have a bodyform typical of foxes, although their legs are a little shorter than most. The fur is grey to brown, with a pale underside and some red on the face, ears and legs.

Crab-eating foxes feed on both coastal and freshwater crabs, but the diet of this omnivorous animal also encompases a wide range of other foods, including small mammals, insects, fruits and carrion. These nocturnal foxes locate crabs in the dark by listening for the rustling they make as they move through thick vegetation.

It hunts lizards, frogs and crabs and also feeds on insects and fruit, and digs for turtle eggs. Poultry also figures in the diet of the crab-eating fox.

Distribution: South America; highlands around the Amazon Basin.

Habitat: Woodland and grassland.

Food: Land crabs, small mammals, birds, insects and other invertebrates, fruit and carrion.

Size: 60 - 70 cm (23.5 - 27.5 in); 6 - 7 kg (13.25 - 15.5 lb).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: Single litter of 3 - 6 pups born in January or February.

Life span: 10 years.

Status: Common.

Cape fox

The Cape fox is found only in the arid areas of southern Africa. Its range covers Namibia, Botswana and western and central South Africa. This small, slim fox lives in dry grasslands and scrub areas. It avoids forest.

The Cape fox has large pointed ears for detecting faint sounds. Like other dogs, it also has an acute sense of smell. The fox uses these senses to hunt at night. It runs long distances in search of a wide range of food. Most victims are small, such as rodents, lizards and insects, although Cape foxes have been known to attack larger animals, such as young antelopes and livestock.

Cape foxes are small, silver-grey foxes with reddish tinges to the head and forelegs. The hind legs have black patches on them. The bushy tail is about half the length of the body.

The foxes always hunt alone, even those within a breeding partnership. Breeding pairs stay together for the breeding season and may pair up again in the following years. They produce pups in late summer and autumn. Several breeding pairs will share a territory and may even den together. The dens are the modified burrows of other mammals, such as aardvarks.

Distribution: Southern Africa.

Habitat: Grasslands and semi-desert.

Food: Rodents, rabbits and insects.

Size: 86 - 97 cm (33.75 - 38.25 in); 2.4 - 4 kg (5.25 - 8.75 lb).

Maturity: 9 months.

Breeding: Females are pregnant for 7 weeks and between 3 - 5 pups are born from September to November.

Life span: Unknown.

Status: Common.

Rueppell's fox

Rueppell's fox is a desert animal. It has large ears, which help it to lose excess body heat (their large surface area allows the blood inside to be cooled by the air). The large ears often result in Rueppell's fox being confused with the fennec fox, but this species is generally significantly larger. The fox also has hairs on the soles of its feet to protect the paws from burning on the hot sand.

This species of fox is a nocturnal hunter, being most active before dawn and at dusk. It will eat whatever it can find in the desert. Most of the diet is made up of insects and other arthropods, such as scorpions.

Rueppell's fox exists in two colour morphs (types). Most have sandy-coloured fur, which helps them blend into their desert habitat. In rocky places, however, the foxes have grey flashes, helping it blend in with the broken landscape. All members of the species have a white tip to their bushy tails.

Rueppell's foxes live in small groups, which are probably primarily composed of family members. Like other fox species, Rueppell's fox cubs often stay with their parents for a year or more. This behaviour allows them to learn how to raise their own young - and be better parents when their time comes. It also helps their parents to raise the next litter more successfully. The helper can guard the young while the mother rests or feeds herself. As a result more of the litter survives.

Distribution: North Africa, from Morocco to Egypt, Arabia. Also found in western and south Asia.

Habitat: Sand and stone deserts.

Food: Insects, small mammals and roots.

Size: 34 - 56 cm (13.5 - 22 in); 1.1 - 2.3 kg (2.5 - 5 lb).

Maturity: 1 year; many yearlings will stay with their parents for a second year.

Breeding: Females are pregnant for 50 days and cubs born in March.

Life span: 12 years.

Status: Unknown.

Hoary zorro

The hoary zorro lives in the tail-grass pampas and sparsely wooded savannahs of Brazil’s Matto Grosso and Minas Gerais regions in the south of the country. It is referred to as the zorro - Spanish for fox - to avoid confusion with the royal, or hoary, fox (Vulpes cana) of South-east Asia.

The word "hoary" refers to the white hairs that are mixed in with the fox's grey coat, which produces a grizzled effect.

Hoary zorros have short coats of grey and silver hairs. They shelter in burrows deserted by other animals, such as armadillos. Much of their diet consists of insects such as grasshoppers and termites, especially in dry periods. Since the teeth are used for crunching small animals rather than ripping flesh, they are not as sharp as those of other foxes, and the grinding molar teeth are wider. Like many foxes, hoary zorros live in male-female pairs, with both parents raising the young.

Distribution: Southern Brazil.

Habitat: Pampas and savannah grasslands.

Food: Small mammals, birds and insects.

Size: 59 - 64 cm (23 - 25 in); 4 kg (8.75 lb).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: 2-4 pups produced in autumn.

Sand or pale fox

Size: 61 - 74 cm (24 - 29.25 in); 2 - 3.6 kg (4.5 - 8 lb)

Found across the Sahel belt in northern Africa, the sand fox lives in family parties comprising an adult pair and their offspring. They dig their own burrows and come out at night or early evening to feed on fruit and berries, which provide them with their daily supplement of water. The sand fox feeds on small mammals and insects.

Royal or hoary fox

Size: 40 - 60 cm (15.75 - 23.5 in); 2 - 3 kg (4.5 - 6.5 lb)

A shy, cat-like fox with dense, sandy-coloured fur, the royal fox lives in rock crevices and shelters from Pakistan to northern Egypt. It has excellent hearing to find insects. It will also feed on berries. The tail is long with thick fur, which is thought to help the animal evade predators that may try to catch it. If a predator grasps the tail, the royal fox has a chance to run away even if it means the predator being left with a mouthful of fur or even a piece of the tail itself.


Size: 90 cm (35.5 in); 10 kg (22 lbs).

Culpeos, or coloured foxes, live from Ecuador to Chile, and even extend to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. They are primarily found west of the Andes, where they live in pampas grasslands and high deciduous forests. The fur is a variety of colours, ranging from red to grey. Culpeo females live in large sisterhoods that cooperate to raise the young of one dominant female. Males are solitary, but join the group to help care for the young in the breeding season. Pups are born in spring, in litters of about four. At a week old they start to establish a dominance hierarchy by fighting over milk and food. The ranking among the females established at this time lasts into adulthood.