For your Friday present, I give you surprise canids! I totally planned this. Okay, well, no I didn't, but I don't get paid to do this and I had shit to do on Wednesday. ;)
The Corsac, or Corsac Fox (Vulpes corsac) can be found in Central Asia, in the desert, semi-desert and steppe climate. It's also known as the steppe fox and the sand fox, although this leads to confusion in species identification since Ruppell's Fox and the Tibetan Sand Fox are also known by that common name.
Corsacs can grow to weigh up to a little over 7 pounds (3.2 Kg) and measure 26 inches (65 cm) from nose to the base of the tail, with a 14-inch tail (35 cm). They have a slight coat variation depending on the season. During the warm season, their coats are thin and gray-yellow in color. During the cold seasons, their coat grows thicker and more gray, with a dark line running down their back.
Corsacs are unusual in their ability to climb trees, due to the shape and size of their claws. They communicate in a variety of ways, including barks, yips and other vocalizations while on the hunt, and through the scent glands in their paws, cheeks, and at the base of their tail. There are three recognized subspecies of Corsac:
- Vulpes corsac corsac (northern Kazakhstan, southern Siberia)
- Vulpes corsac kalmykorum (northern Uzbekistan, the Caucasus)
- Vulpes corsac turkmenicus (southern Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, China and the surrounding regions)
Corsacs live on a diet made up of small mammals and insects, like voles, jerboas, hamsters, gerbils, squirrels, hares and pikas. This is the source of most of their water as well, since they have adapted to survive in the deserts and steppes by reducing the amount of water they need to drink. Corsacs will sometimes form packs, and they are nomadic in nature, not having a fixed territory. They follow their food sources and flee from the deep snow, which makes it difficult for them to hunt.
Female Corsacs will give birth to a litter of 2 to 6 kits after a gestation period of 52 to 60 days. Corsacs form monogamous pairs during the mating season. Pregnant female Corsacs will sometimes share birthing dens with other pregnant females, but will move their kits after the birth.
Corsacs are under threat from the fur trade, and while it can have significant and wild fluctuations in population, they are listed as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN.