Bat-eared Fox [Otocyon megalotis]
The Bat-eared Fox (Otocyon Megalotis) has a shoulder height of only 30cm, a length of about 75cm and weighs less than 5 kilograms. Apart from its obvious bat-like facial features, its fur is a beautiful silver-grey colour and it has a bushy tail about 25cm in length. Their front paws are adapted extremely well for digging their burrows.
Like the Aardwolf, the Bat-eared Fox has a taste for termites, particularly harvester termites. It also feeds on insects, small rodents, lizards, small snakes and wild fruit.
Cubs are born after a gestation period of about 2 months and are weaned in a year. The cubs are born in complex underground dens, usually during spring or early summer. Both parents participate in raising the offspring but it's up to the male to initiate the young in the art of hunting.
Bat-eared Foxes pair-bond for life. They are not generally noisy but they do make some sounds such as barking, growling and whining. They can also be heard calling one another with shrill 'who-who who' calls. They mark their territorial boundaries by urinating on bushes and trees. Bat-eared Foxes are primarily nocturnal in most parts of South Africa, but in certain places, such as the Kalahari, they are diurnal during the cold winter months.
This species prefers open grassland, but can be found in semi-desert and in bush country. The Bat-eared Fox tends to avoid long grass areas, perhaps due to the risk of predation. In the Serengeti, Bat-Eared Foxes appear to be particularly abundant in woodland boundary habitats. Bat-Eared Foxes are found in arid grasslands and savannahs, preferring areas where the grass is short. They are capable diggers and live in dens that are dug by the Foxes themselves or those left by other animals such as the Aardvark. Dens have multiple entrances and chambers and several meters of tunnels. A family may have several dens in its home range.
Where they are found
Unfortunately, the survival of the beautiful Bat-eared Fox is threatened by a loss of their natural habitat and by the trade in their skins. Today, it is a protected species and can be seen in a number of game reserves throughout South Africa.
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