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Bat-Eared Foxes

Bat-Eared Fox Information

Bat-eared fox, three-quarter view showing head and body Bat-eared Fox Quick Facts

Family: Canidae (Wild dogs, Foxes, Jackals)
Scientific name: Otocyon megalotis
Average shoulder height: 35 cm (14 in)
Weight: 3 - 5 kg (6.6 - 11 lb)
Gestation period: 60 days
Life expectancy: 10 - 12 years

Bat-eared fox close-up of head Bat-eared fox with its pointy muzzle and amazingly large ears

Bat-eared foxes are, together with wild dogs and jackals, part of the Canidae family. As the name suggests, the disproportionately large ears are the most distinguishing feature of this small, attractive mammal.

Something else unusual about bat-eared foxes is their playfulness in the wild, even as adults. So it's not unusual to find a pair of adults apparently having fun as they play-chase or mock fight with fierce-sounding growls. Individuals will also play with random objects, like throwing a twig in the air or attacking a tuft of grass

The bat-eared fox has a jackal-like appearance with slender legs and a long, pointy muzzle. The large ears, that can grow up to 14 cm (nearly 6 in) in length, are dark at the back and tips, but paler on the inside with light gray around the edges.

The coat of the bat-eared fox is a silvery color and quite grizzled, while the legs are black, as is the top and tip of the bushy tail. The mouth, eyes, and nose are generally dark, with paler areas below the eyes and a pale, nearly white strip, running across the forehead up to the ears.

This fox is both diurnal and nocturnal, but stays hidden during the hotter hours of the day. It spends a lot of its time digging its own burrows. Pairs mate for life, and will form a group comprising the male, the female and their offspring.

Bat-eared fox pups at their burrow
Trio of bat-eared fox pups at their burrow entrance

Diet: Bat-eared foxes eat mostly insects - about 80% of their food - but also eat reptiles, small rodents and wild fruits. Their speciality is to hunt for beetle larvae under the ground which it locates by sound, using its huge ears for this.

Reproduction: Four to six pups are born to each pair after a 60-day gestation period. The mother has her babies in a burrow, usually from September to November (Spring or early Summer) in southern Africa.

When the pups are born they are a pale gray color, with their eyes closed at birth. They remain underground for about three weeks, after which they start emerging from their burrow, usually under the watch of their parents. The pups will leave the family at about seven months old.

Bat-eared foxes make a soft "who-who" sound, but under stress will growl and vocalize with a loud, metallic chattering.

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