This fox is named for its
enormous ears

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Bat-Eared Fox

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Termites and dung beetles are 80% of their diet
  • Native to more than 10 African countries
  • There are 2 distinct populations

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Octocyon megalotis

Weight

3 to 5 kilograms (7 to 12 pounds)

Size

45 to 66 centimeters long (18 to 26 inches)

Life span

6 to 14 years in captivity. No data for in the wild

Habitat

Prime habitat is short-grass plains and areas with bare ground, but they are also found in arid/semi-arid scrubland, and savanna.

Diet

Insectivorous

Gestation

60 to 70 days

Predators

Humans, eagles, and jackals

Habitat

Where do bat-eared foxes live?

Bat-eared foxes are primarily found in East and Southern Africa where there are short-grass plains and plenty of termites and beetles.

Tags: Bat-Eared Fox, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kilimanjaro, Samburu, East Africa, Southern Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What is a bat-eared fox?

As the name indicates, this fox has unusually enormous ears in proportion to its head, like those of many bats. Their bodies are generally yellow-brown with a pale throat and under parts. The outsides of the ears, the racoon-like “face-mask,” lower legs, feet, and tail tip are all black. Their legs are relatively short. Aside from their large ears, they are unique from other foxes by their teeth — they have more teeth than any other placental mammal (46 to 50).

Behavior & Diet

Bat-eared foxes play an important role in termite control.

A single fox can eat up to 1.15 million termites each year. Termites and dung beetles make up about 80 percent of their diets. In addition to termites and dung beetles, they also eat other insects and arthropods, small rodents, lizards, the eggs and chicks of other birds, and plant matter. They obtain much of their water from the body fluid of the insects they consume.

They are most active at night.

Bat-eared foxes are primarily nocturnal — 85 percent of their activity occurs during under the cover of night. They emerge from their underground dens at dusk to feed during the night.

Bat-eared foxes are wily escape artists.

They have an incredible sense of hearing — their large ears can hear beetle larvae hatching from dung balls. To escape from predators, they rely on their incredible agility and speed. They have an impeccable ability to dodge predators and they are able to reverse directions at a flat run without ever losing speed.

They form family groups similar to our own.

Bat-eared foxes live in groups of mating pairs and their young. They are usually monogamous and breed annually, producing a litter of three to six pups. These family groups often social-groom, play, and sleep together. Males participate in guarding, grooming, and playing with the young as much or as even more than the mother.

Gallery
  • Bat Eared Fox Alejandro Tawil
  • Bat Eared Fox Alejandro Tawil
  • Bat Eared Fox Lee Slabber
  • Bat Eared Fox James Weis
Challenges

The bat-eared fox is losing its living space to humans.

As human populations grow and expand, they encroach on wildlife habitats as they build new settlements, increase agricultural production, and construct new roads.

Humans value their winter pelts.

In Botswana, indigenous people hunt the bat-eared fox for their pelts. In South Africa, they are hunting trophies. They are also often perceived as threats and predators of small livestock.

Solutions

Our solutions to protecting the bat-eared fox:

  • Engage wildlife scouts.

    African Wildlife Foundation recruits, equips, and trains scouts. These community members monitor wildlife, mitigate human-wildlife conflict, and work with local authorities to ensure the safety and security of wildlife in their area.

  • Work with communities living near wildlife.

    AWF engages communities to become protectors of the wildlife they share space with. As populations expand, we know it is necessary to train communities in methods of sustainable agriculture and growth, such as planting new and diverse seeds, to increase production and decrease land-use.

Projects

Will you show bat-eared foxes your support?

With your help, AWF can work on critical initiatives, like providing sustainable agricultural training and working with wildlife scouts to protect these mammals. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure this species does not become endangered.

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