Bat-eared Fox [Otocyon megalotis]
The Bat-Eared Fox has a silver-gray fluffy coat, a black-tipped bushy tail with a black stripe on top. An outstanding feature is the enormous ears, which are black on the outside and white inside. The long, sharp muzzle is black on top and white underneath. These smallish creatures are 300 mm high at the shoulders and have a length of 800 mm. Mass is about 3-5 kg.
They have tiny teeth restricting their diet to insects, small rodents and fruit. The main food source is harvester termites
. They forage in family groups.
A litter of two to five cubs are born after a gestation period of 60 days. Cubs are born late October to early January. Young are weaned at about ten weeks. Sexual maturity and reproductive activity commence in the second year of life.
The Bat-Eared Fox is mainly nocturnal, lying up during the day in burrows. Males guard the den where young are hidden, while the female forages. Preferred habitat is short-grass or open shrub country which affords good visibility for detecting predators, and a ready supply of food. When fleeing from a predator Bat-Eared Foxes either lies up or, if possible, escapes to the cover of tall grass or thick bush.
Where they are found
Widespread in southern and east Africa. Occurs in arid and semi-arid areas. Recently also spread into the Cape Peninsula and towards Cape Agulhas. Apart from localized persecution by farmers, it is still common.
One of the most endearing habits of the Bat-eared Fox is the way they walk with their ears close to the ground when foraging. They will suddenly stop, listen intently and then either walk on or dig furiously. Their ears are able to pick up the movements of insects underground.