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 most placental mammals (46 to 50).

Scientific name

Octocyon megalotis


3 to 5 kilograms (7 to 12 pounds)


45 to 66 centimeters long (18 to 26 inches)

Life span

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


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




60 to 70 days


Humans, eagles, and jackals

Termites and dung beetles are
of their diet
Native to more than
African countries
There are
distinct populations
Bat-Eared Fox


Bat-eared fox habitat is shrinking.

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 bat-eared fox fur.

In Botswana, bat-eared foxes are hunted for their pelts. In South Africa, they are hunting trophies. They are also often perceived as threats and predators of small livestock.


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.

Community Involvement
Work with communities living near wildlife.

AWF engages communities to become protectors of the wildlife they share space with. We introduce sustainable agriculture approaches, such as planting new and diverse seeds, to increase production while reducing land conversion to farmland.

Bat-Eared Fox
Bat-Eared Fox Pups


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.


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.


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.