Bat-eared Fox

© Nigel J Dennis

Name

Bat-eared fox [Otocyon megalotis]

Appearance

The main feature of the bat-eared fox is its large ears, which have black fur on the outside with white hair on the inside. Their large ears are ideal for hearing prey below the ground in the bushveld of South Africa. They have a fluffy silver-gray coat with a black-tipped bushy tail. They have long, pointed muzzles that are black on top and white underneath. These small foxes stand 300 mm high from the shoulders and are 800 mm long. They weigh between 3-5 kg.

Bat-eared Fox Diet

The tiny teeth of the bat-eared fox limit them to a diet of fruit, small rodents and insects found in South Africa. They mainly feed on harvester termites and forage in family groups.

Bat-eared Fox Breeding

The breeding season in South Africa for the bat-eared fox occurs between late October and early January. They have a gestation period of 60 days. Litters consist of between 2 – 5 cubs and they are weaned for about 10 weeks. The bat-eared fox reaches sexual maturity when it is two years old.

Bat-eared Fox Behaviour

Mainly nocturnal, the bat-eared fox prefers to sleep in its burrow during the heat of the day in South Africa. When the pups are in the den, the male will stand guard while the female forages for food. The bat-eared fox lives among short-grass and open shrub environments which allows it to easily spot predators and food. To escape predators, the bat-eared fox either escapes into its den or takes cover in tall grass or a thick bush.

Where they are found

The bat-eared fox can be found across Southern and East Africa in arid and semi-arid areas. In South Africa, they are commonly found around the Cape Peninsula and around the Western Cape near Cape Agulhas. Local farmers still pose a threat to these foxes.

Field Notes

The large ears of the bat-eared fox are able to hear movements of insects or prey underground. The bat-eared fox forages with its ears close to the ground where it will stop to listen then start digging furiously when it hears its prey moving below.