The bat-eared fox (Octocyon megalotis) is a species of fox that is fairly common throughout Southern and Eastern Africa. They are primarily found in areas where there are short grass plains and where there are an abundance of termites and beetles. As their name suggest, they have enormous bat-like ears that are not in proportion to the rest of their body. There are two distinct populations of bat-eared foxes and are native to more then 10 African countries.
Here are some facts you may not have known about the bat-eared fox…
Their teeth are unique compared to other mammals
Bat-eared foxes have more teeth then any other placental mammal, 46-50 teeth! Their extremely pointy teeth help aid digestion as they enable them to quickly and efficiently chew their food.
They are great pest controllers for farmers
Termites make up to 80% of the diet of the bat-eared fox. Termites are considered as pests to farmers and they hugely benefit farmers by controlling termites as they can eat up to 1.15 million termites each year.
Other food sources for the fox include dung beetles, other insects, anthropoids, small rodents, lizards, eggs and chicks of birds and plant matter. They seldom drink water as they obtain most of their water from their food sources.
Males undertake most of the parental care
Unlike other canids, the bat-eared fox males take the leading parental care role whilst the female forages for food to help maintain her milk production.
They form close family groups
Bat-eared foxes live in groups of mating pairs and their offspring. They are monogamous and breed annually and the female can give birth to a litter size up to 3 to 6 pups. These family groups are very social, they social-groom, play and sleep together. The males play as much or even more with the pups then the mothers do. They are truly great dads!
They are victims of trophy hunting
The bat-eared fox winter pelt is valued by the indigenous people in Botswana. In South Africa they are used as hunting trophies. They are also kept in captivity in North America, Europe, South Africa and Asia as exotic pets.
They are sometimes intentionally prosecuted as they are seen as damage-causing animals and may be accidently poisoned or killed when another species was the intended target.
Habitat loss is a big threat to the bat-eared fox
As the human population increases at a rapid rate and they expand, encroaching on wildlife habitats to use for agricultural purposes, build new settlements and construct new roads. Bat-eared foxes are regularly are killed or injured by vehicle collisions.
They are nocturnal
They are most active at night, 85% of their activity occurs during the night and emerge from their dens at dusk to feed during the night.
They have incredible hearing, which isn’t a surprise
Their large ears help them to have incredible hearing and can hear a beetle larva hatching from dung balls. Their large ears help them to detect predators and help with thermoregulation.
They can hit reverse without losing any speed
They are incredibly agile, and able to dodge predators and can even reverse directions at a flat out pace without losing any speed.
Come back next Friday for more interesting facts, #factfriday !