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Bat-eared Fox

The bat-eared fox makes its home on the savannas of Africa. It is named for its extremely large ears and is also known as the cape fox, the big-eared fox, and Delalande’s fox. Officially known as Otocyon megalotis, the bat-eared fox is known by fossil records to have first appeared around 800,000 years ago, during the mid-Pleistocene era.

Black-eared foxes have fur that ranges in color from pale yellow to a deep tawny color. They have black legs, ears, and face markings. Adults can reach a body length of 18 to 26 inches with another 9 to 13 added for they can weight anywhere from 4 ½ to 10 pounds. They are most easily identified by their enormous ears, which can be up to five inches in height. Their ears allow them to locate their favorite food (insects) as it creeps along underground.

Divided into two, very distinct populations, one species is found in southern Zambia, South Africa, and Angola and another is found in southern South Sudan, Ethiopia, and extends its range into Tanzania. Wherever they make their home, they can be found in not only short grass lands, but in the more arid savanna regions as well. In these areas they live in self-dug dens for protection against the extreme temperatures and harsh winds.

Bat-eared foxes are mainly insectivores, with harvester termites making up 80 to 90% of their diet. When this type of termite isn’t available, they eat other termites as well as other insects such as crickets, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and even spiders and scorpions. In rare cases they have been known to catch small mammals or birds. Their mouths and teeth are particularly well adapted to eating insects and a single bat-eared fox can consume thousands of termites in a single night.

Bat-eared foxes are generally monogamous, though they have been seen in groups of 1 male to 2 females and they often mate for life. The gestation period for bat-eared foxes is approximately 2 months and the young are born around the start of the rainy season. This is when the insect population is at its peak, ensuring an adequate food supply. Litters are usually from 2 to 6 young and after they are weaned (at around 15 weeks) the male takes over care of the cubs.

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