Bat-eared fox

The ears not only resemble a bat’s ear, but they also have the same purpose – locate insects

Yathin S Krishnappa

It stands out as one of the most distinctive members of the Canidae family, primarily due to its unusually large ears relative to its head size. This species is found across the African savannah, with its presence marked from the eastern regions of Ethiopia stretching to the southern tip of Africa.

The bat-eared fox has a compact, small face accentuated by a white, raccoon-like mask and a pointed, short muzzle, presenting a unique appearance among fox species. Its ashy-grey pelage blends seamlessly into the African savannah landscape, with white fur adorning its short limbs and tail. The underside of the neck and belly display a paler hue, providing a subtle contrast to its overall coloration. However, the most striking feature of the bat-eared fox is undoubtedly its large ears, which not only enhance its auditory capabilities but also play a crucial role in thermoregulation. These ears allow excess heat to dissipate, helping the fox maintain a comfortable body temperature amidst the fluctuating temperatures of its habitat.

This fox also exhibits remarkable flexibility in its lifestyle, with behavioral adaptations that vary based on geographic location. In the Serengeti, they remain nocturnal throughout the year, while in South Africa, their activity shifts from nocturnal in the summer to diurnal in the winter. This adaptability ensures they can exploit their food sources efficiently while minimizing exposure to predators.

Their diet primarily consists of harvester termites and dung beetles, making them one of the few canid species to specialize in insectivory. The bat-eared fox uses its large ears to detect the movements of these insects underground, showcasing an exceptional form of predation that is highly adapted to their environment. Additionally, the body fluids of these insects serve as a crucial water source, enabling the bat-eared fox to thrive in arid environments where water is scarce.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2014
Botswana
2014
Ethiopia
2014
Kenya
2014
Mozambique
2014
Namibia
2014
Somalia
2014
South Africa
2014
South Sudan
2014
Tanzania
2014
Uganda
2014
Zimbabwe
2014

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No