Charismatic Mammals of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

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Bat-eared Fox

Bat-eared fox in the CKGR

Few of southern Africa’s small carnivores are as endearing as the bat-eared fox. This small animal is typically found in the more arid parts of the Kalahari sub-region with a distinct sub-species in south-western Africa. This is a characterful species in many ways – its large, dish-like ears is probably this fox’s most distinctive feature together with a magnificent black tail, arched back and black, pointed muzzle.

“What big ears you have!”
It feeds mostly on harvester termites and beetle larvae and is well-adapted to locating these food sources. That’s where those eye-catching ears come into play: super-sensitive in locating their favourite prey. When they are out foraging, the ears are held forward to detect moving insects. They are fond of scorpions, rodents, lizards, wild fruits, millipedes and hunting spiders, while their sense of smell is employed to locate prey for which they actively dig after.

Bat-eared fox CKGR

"What big teeth you have …" 
Unique to bat-eared foxes is their extraordinary dentition – in sheer number rather than size; loads of small, sharp teeth deal well with both hard-shelled and pincered termite insects.

Bat-eared foxes are mostly active at night but are often also seen early morning and late afternoon, particularly in the colder winter months. They are typically seen in monogamous, non-territorial pairs, otherwise observed on their own or in small family groups. Little is known about the dispersal of the young and when new breeding pairs form.

Bat-eared fox CKGR

Although classified as of Least Concern according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with a stable population, they are extensively trapped in certain areas for their lustrous thick fur, which is used as winter pelts. It is also very unfortunate that many farmers perceive them as threats to their livestock and they are unnecessarily persecuted for this when in fact, they pose no threat at all to young livestock.

Photos from Mike Myers and Dana Allen

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By Martin Benadie

Martin is our birding expert and shares his wealth of avian knowledge with us, as well as tips on photography, safari optics and environmental news.

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