Bat-Eared Fox

Otocyon megalotis

The bat-eared fox is a species of fox found on the African savanna, named for its large ears, which are used for thermoregulation. Fossil records show this canid to first appear during the middle Pleistocene, about 800,000 years ago. It is considered a basal canid species, resembling ancestral forms of the family.

The bat-eared fox has tawny fur with black ears, legs and parts of the pointed face. It averages 55 cm in length , with ears 13 cm long. It is the only species in the genus ''Otocyon''. The name ''Otocyon'' is derived from the Greek words "''otus''" for ear and "''cyon''" for dog, while the specific name "''megalotis''" comes from the Greek words "''mega''" for large and "''otus''" for ear.
Bat-eared Fox - All ears A Bat-eared Fox on full alert, using its ginormous ears for detecting the slightest of noise.  

This animal is greatly loved in Namibia.  It preys on especially termites (it can hear them burrowing in their tunnels underground - thus the large ears) and other insects which causes damage to crop farmers etc.  It is also highly protected by the Government.  Illegal killing of this animal hardy exists.   Bat-eared fox,Geotagged,Namibia,Otocyon megalotis,Spring,alert,curious,cute,ears,fox,listen

Distribution

There are two allopatric populations in Africa. One is the ''Otocyon megalotis virgatus'', which occurs from Ethiopia and southern Sudan to Tanzania. The other population, ''Otocyon megalotis megalotis'', occurs in the southern part of Africa. It ranges from southern Zambia and Angola to South Africa; and extends as far east as Mozambique and Zimbabwe, spreading into the Cape Peninsula and toward Cape Agulhas. Home ranges vary in size from 0.3 to 3.5 km2.
Bat-eared fox || Etosha || Oct 2018
https://www.facebook.com/MohammedSalmanPics/ Bat-Eared Fox,Otocyon megalotis

Status

The bat-eared fox has some commercial use for humans. They are important for harvester termite population control, as the termites are considered pests. They have also been hunted for their fur by Botswana natives. Additional threats to populations include disease and drought that can harm populations of prey; however, there are no major threats to bat-eared fox populations.
Foxy ladies? In the early morning light these two Bat Eared Foxes watch their babies play. Bat eared Foxes,Bat-eared fox,Geotagged,Otocyon megalotis,Tanzania

Behavior

In the more northern areas of its range they are nocturnal 85% of the time. However, around South Africa they are nocturnal only in the summer and diurnal during the winter.

The bat-eared fox is a highly social animal. They often live in pairs or groups of up to 15 individuals, and home ranges of groups either overlap substantially or very little. Individuals forage, play, and rest together in a group, which helps in protection against predators. Social grooming occurs throughout the year mostly between mature adults, but also between young adults and mature adults.

Visual displays are very important in communication among bat-eared foxes. When they are looking intently at something, the head is held high, eyes are open, ears are erect and facing forward, and the mouth is closed. When an individual is in threat or showing submission, the ears are pulled back and lying against the head and the head is low. The tail also plays a role in communication. When an individual is asserting dominance or aggression, feeling threatened, playing, or being sexually aroused the tail is arched in an inverted U shape. Individuals can also use piloerection, which occurs when individual hairs are standing straight, to make it appear larger when faced with extreme threat. When running, chasing or fleeing the tail is straight and horizontal. The bat-eared fox can recognize individuals up to 30m away. The recognition process has three steps: First they ignore the individual, then they stare intently, and finally they either approach or attack without displays. When greeting another, the approaching individual shows symbolic submission which is received by the other individual with a high head and tail down. Few vocalizations are used for communication, but contact calls and warning calls are used, mostly during the winter. Glandular secretions and scratching, other than for digging, are absent in communication.
Bat Eared Fox This fox was part of a pair walking across the Namib Desert in the early evening.  I took this picture while it was standing completely motionless in an apparent effort to locate its prey.  After about 5 minutes of almost no movement, it suddenly ran to a nearby spot, and swallowed something in one bite.  Afterwards, it carried on after its partner. Africa,Bat-Eared Fox,Geotagged,Namibia,Otocyon megalotis,Winter,wildlife

Habitat

The bat-eared fox commonly occurs in short grass lands as well as the more arid regions of the savanna. It prefers bare ground and areas where grass is kept short by grazing ungulates. They tend to forage in these short grass and low shrub habitats. However, they do venture into areas with tall grasses and thick shrubs to hide when threatened. In addition to raising their young in dens, bat-eared foxes use self-dug dens for shelter from extreme temperatures and winds.They also lie under acacia trees in South Africa to seek shade during the day.
Bat-Eared Fox - Otocyon megalotis This Bat-Eared Fox was seen at Cheetah Outreach, Cape Town.
Besides Cheetah, they also keep a few other Cats and animals in their facility. Bat-Eared Fox,Cape Town,Fall,Fox,Geotagged,Otocyon megalotis,South Africa

Reproduction

The bat-eared fox is predominantly socially 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 kits. Beyond lactation, which lasts 14 to 15 weeks, males take over 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. The female forages for food, which she uses to maintain milk production, which the pups heavily depend on. Food foraged by the female is not brought back to the pups or regurgitated to feed the pups.

Pups in the Kalahari region are born September–November and those in the Botswana region are born October–December. Young bat-eared foxes disperse and leave their family groups at 5–6 months old and reach sexual maturity at 8–9 months.
Bat-eared fox is all ears A bat-eared fox is listening for insects underground in the grasslands of Etosha National Park in Namibia.  Bat-eared fox,Carnivora,Fox,Otocyon megalotis,bat-eared fox,ears,etosha,namibia

Food

The bat-eared fox is predominantly an insectivore that uses its large ears to locate its prey. 80–90% of their diet is harvester termites . When this particular species of termite is not available, bat-eared foxes feed on other species of termites and have also been observed consuming other arthropods such as ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, millipedes, moths, scorpions, spiders, and rarely birds, small mammals, reptiles and fungi . The insects they eat fulfill the majority of their water intake needs. The bat-eared fox refuses to feed on snouted harvester termites, likely because it is not adapted to tolerate termites’ chemical defense.
Bat Eared Fox This was taken at a big cat sanctuary outside Kimberley Otocyon,bat eared fox

Predators

The bat-eared fox has some commercial use for humans. They are important for harvester termite population control, as the termites are considered pests. They have also been hunted for their fur by Botswana natives. Additional threats to populations include disease and drought that can harm populations of prey; however, there are no major threats to bat-eared fox populations.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCarnivora
FamilyCanidae
GenusOtocyon
SpeciesO. megalotis