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Bat-Eared Fox Fact File

Appearance

The bat-eared fox is most noticeable for the extremely large ears on top of the head. These are an adaptation to help them hear their main food source, the harvester termite.

While the large ears are good for hearing they also help them to cool them down. This is a result of the large concentration of blood vessels located here.

Across the body bat eared foxes are colored sandy gray with light fur on the belly. Dark patches are present around the eyes, muzzle, feet and on the tip of the bushy tail. A band of white fur is present on the forehead.

They have thick fur which assists with protecting them against the bites of soldier termites.

These foxes have relatively short legs.

Bat-eared foxes have more teeth than most other mammals. They have between 45 and 60 teeth which assist with crushing the hard shells of the insects they eat.

An average bat-eared fox will measure between 46 and 66cm (18 and 26in) long with an average weight of 3 to 5kg (6.6-11lbs). At the shoulder they stand 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) tall.

At the end of their body is a tail measuring between 23 and 34cm (9 and 13.5in) long. This tail is large and bushy with a dark tip.

Diet

Their diet is primarily made up of insects. A majority of their diet is the harvester termite though dung beetles may also be eaten.

This main diet may be supplemented by rodents, lizards, fruits and eggs.

While eating the jaw of a bat-eared fox will move its mouth up and down as fast as much as five times a second.

They will walk around until they hear something underground until they hear a food source. They then dig in to the ground to reach the food.

Bat-eared foxes will hang around hoofed mammals. These create poop which attracts insects.

Each year a single bat-eared fox may consume up to 1.15 million insects.

Bat-Eared Fox

Scientific Name

Otocyon megalotis

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

3-5kg (6.6-11lbs)

Length

46-66cm (18-26in)

Lifespan

13 years

Diet

Omnivorous

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Range

The bat-eared fox is a native of Africa. Here they can be found in two distinct populations covering the following countries – Angola; Botswana; Ethiopia; Kenya; Mozambique; Namibia; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Tanzania; Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Habitat

Bat-eared foxes make their home in open habitats such as scrub, savanna, grassland, steppes, wooded areas or farmland.

Bat-Eared Fox

Reproduction

Pairs will leave together and mate for life. They defend a home territory together where they will raise their young. Occasional records exist of a pair welcoming another female to live with them and share their den.

Throughout their territory they have several den holes which have multiple entrances. They may dig their own dens or make use of those made by other animals.

Females will give birth to up to 6 kits. The kits are born after a 60 to 75 day gestation period. These spend the first 8 to 12 days of their life in the den. It is common for not all of the pups to survive.

Kits are nursed for between 10 and 15 weeks. She will regurgitate food for the kits to give them a taste for solid food.

The father helps with raising the kits by brining them food and teaching them to forage. They are fully grown by 6 months old.

Sexual maturity is reached at 18 months old.

Behavior

Bat-eared foxes will communicate through a range of calls and by scent marking with urine.

The activity pattern of a bat-eared fox will change throughout the year. In parts of their range they are active at night while in others they are nocturnal during the warm summer months and active by day in winter. This is tied to the activity pattern of their main food source, harvester termites.

Pairs of bat-eared foxes remain together year round. They will engage in a range of social behaviors such as grooming.

Bat-Eared Fox

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the bat-eared fox include eagles, jackals and hyenas.

When threatened by a predator they try to escape where possible.

Humans hunt the bat-eared fox for their pelt and as a trophy. They are perceived as a threat to small livestock.

Quick facts

Males foxes are called dogs while the female is known as the vixen.

Bat-eared foxes are the only members of their genus Otocyon.

Bat-Eared Fox

Photo Credits

Top

Yathin S Krishnappa, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

Bautsch, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two

Matěj Baťha, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

Vachovec1, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

References

Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2021. Bat-eared Fox | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/bat-eared-fox> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

African Wildlife Foundation. 2021. Learn more about the adorable bat-eared fox.. [online] Available at: <https://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/bat-eared-fox> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Thomson, P. 2002. “Otocyon megalotis” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 03, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Otocyon_megalotis/

Potterparkzoo.org. 2021. Bat-Eared Fox | Potter Park Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://potterparkzoo.org/animals/bat-eared-fox/> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo | Indiana’s #1 Summer “Gotta-Do” Attraction. 2021. Bat-eared Fox | Our Animals | Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://kidszoo.org/our-animals/bat-eared-fox/> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

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