IMPORTANT WEDNESDAY WOOF ANNOUNCEMENT:
Today's Woof is the last of the extant Woofs. This has been a great series, and I've learned a lot while writing it. I hope you all have, too. There will be one more Wednesday Woof entry for next week, a special one about an extinct species that a reader requested a while back.
After that, I will do a short Wednesday Hyena series (short, because there are only four hyena species). Did you know that Hyenas aren't canines? They're not. They're feliforms, which means they're more closely related to cats.
And then after I finish the Wednesday Hyenas, and I have a New and Exciting series planned. I'll see how you guys like it. Anyway, onto our last living Woof!
The Tibetan Fox (Vulpes ferrilata), also known as the Tibetan Sand Fox, is a small, compact canid that can be found in the high elevations (17,300 feet or 5,300 m) of the Tibetan and Ladakh Plateaus. It has a well-established presence in the steppes and semi-deserts, and is therefore considered to be a species of Least Concern by the IUCN.
Tibetan Foxes have distinctive wide faces and narrow muzzles, giving them a unique appearance. They can grow up to 28 inches (70 cm) in body length, with a 16-inch (40 cm) tail. Adults can reach a weight of 12 pounds (5.5 Kg). They live in dens that they dig themselves, often under rocks, or in the crevices of piles of boulders.
Tibetan Foxes are carnivores, and hunt in pairs if they have found mates. Mated pairs stay together for life. They will share whatever food they catch, which usually consists of pika, rodents, hares, and ground-dwelling birds. It's possible that they will also scavenge the carcasses of deer, antelope and livestock. They have been observed participating in hunts for pika by following brown bears, who will dig the pika out of their burrows with their big paws. The Tibetan Fox will then grab the pika when they dart out to escape.
Mating season for Tibetan Foxes is in the very early spring, February in March, and female Tibetan Foxes will give birth to a litter of two to five kits after a 60-day gestation period. The kits will stay in the birthing den for the first few weeks of their lives. Both the mother and father are involved in raising them. At about eight or ten months of age, the kits will leave their parents to seek out mates of their own, and claim some territory. Tibetan Foxes do not seem to be overly territorial, however, as multiple pairs and family groups have been observed sharing hunting grounds and living relatively close together.
Tibetan Foxes are hunted for their fur, and humans are their only known predator. The practice is largely confined to the people who dwell on the steppes and plains, however, and the fur is used to make hats and other clothing to protect them from the elements.