Bat-eared foxes, otocyon megalotis, are so named because of their long ears, which measure over 5 inches (13 centimeters) long. Their heads and bodies are 18 to 26 inches (30 to 40 centimeters) long, with their tails adding an additional 9 to 13.5 inches (23 to 34 centimeters) of length. They stand 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 centimeters) at the shoulder, and weigh anywhere from 4.5 to 12 pounds (2 to 5.4 kilograms). Bat-eared foxes are brownish-gray in color, with a lighter underbelly as well as dark legs, muzzles, ears and eyes. The signature ears of bat-eared foxes not only allow for an incredible sense of hearing, but it also allows them to shed heat and keep cool.
Bat-eared foxes can be found in the grasslands and savannas of eastern and southern Africa. They live in dens which they either dig out themselves, or have been abandoned by other animals. Bat-eared foxes usually live in small, family groups that consist of 1 adult male (called a “dog”), 1 or 2 adult females (called “vixens”) and their offspring (called “kits”). They have 7 low-pitched calls that they use to communicate with other members of the group and do most of their hunting at night. Unlike most dog species, bat-eared foxes don’t mind sharing their territory with other bat-eared foxes, with up to 72 different foxes occupying the same 1 square mile (1.6 square kilometers) area sometimes.
The diet of bat-eared foxes consists mainly of insects and arachnids such as termites, grasshoppers, spiders, scorpions and dung beetles. They will however, also eat birds, rodents, reptiles, fruit and eggs should the opportunity present itself. They use their sensitive ears to hear their diminutive prey moving around, and then jump and catch them when the time is right. Predators that bat-eared foxes must be on the lookout for include eagles, jackals, and hyenas. When threatened, they will run away from their predator using their incredible agility until they have lost them.
Breeding season for bat-eared foxes usually takes place from September to November, although it can take place all year long for those in east Africa. Females will give birth to a litter of 2 to 6 kits after a gestation period of 60 to 75 days. Mothers will nurse their young for about 15 weeks, although both bat-eared fox parents will help raise their young. The kits are fully grown by the time they are 6 months old, but they will often remain with their parents for a while longer. It is unknown how long bat-eared foxes live in the wild, but in zoos they have been known to be as old as 13.
Bat-eared foxes are not an endangered species, with healthy populations in both their ranges. They are hunted by the local people sometimes, but it is not enough to threaten their numbers. Hopefully, bat-eared foxes can remain safe and avoid ever having to face the threat of extinction. After all, such a unique species of fox deserves to live and prosper far into the future.
“Bat-Eared Fox” 3 April 2011
“Mammal: Bat-Eared Fox” 3 April 2011
“Bat-Eared Fox” 3 April 2011