Felidae is currently home to 9 bat-eared foxes! These foxes are intelligent, mischievous, curious and more – all the while being absolutely adorable. Their trade mark giant ears help them with hunting and avoiding predators. Bakkies and Roxy, the original two foxes brought to the farm, were quick to prove that this species has no problem populating in captivity – quadrupling their family size over a 3 year span! They tend to be more active at night, using their heightened sense of hearing and smell to find food underground. While their timid nature makes them run from people initially, a handful of fox pellets is a sure way to interact with these fluffy little guys!
Habitat: These foxes typically live in grassy and bare areas. When threatened, they will retreat to dens or areas with thick shrubs. These dens are used primarily to raise young, although they also provide relief from extreme temperatures and winds.
Characteristics: The bat-eared fox (also referred to as big-eared fox, black-eared fox, and cape fox) has tawny fur with black ears, legs and parts of the pointed face. It averages 55 cm in length (head and body), with ears 13 cm long. These giant ears are used for thermoregulation – meaning they have the ability to control their body temperature!
Breeding: The bat-eared fox is predominantly monogamous, although it has been observed in polygynous groups. In contrast to other canids, the bat-eared fox has a reversal in parental roles with the male taking on the majority of the parental care behavior. Females gestate for 60–70 days and give birth to litters consisting of 1 to 6 pups. Males take over the grooming, defending, huddling, chaperoning, and carrying the young between den sites. Additionally, male care and den attendance rates have been shown to have a direct correlation with cub survival rates.
Food: The bat-eared fox is an insectivore that uses its large ears to locate its prey. 80–90% of their diet is harvester termites – which is perfect as South Africa is covered in them! When this particular species of termite is not available bat-eared foxes feed on other species of termites and have also been observed consuming ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, millipedes, moths, scorpions, spiders, and rarely birds, small mammals, and reptiles. Additionally, the insects they eat fulfill the majority of their water intake needs.
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