The Bat-eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis) can be found on the arid and grassland areas of the African savanna (South Africa, Zambia, Angola, Ethiopia, Tanzania and south Sudan). They dig their own dens in order to shelter from predators, the weather and to have a safe place to raise their young.
Bat-eared Foxes are insectivores that use their amazing ears (13 cm!) to locate prey. In fact, the scientific name for the Bat-eared Fox mentions its ears twice. “Otus” means “ear” in Greek, combined with “cyon”, which means dog. “Mega” means “large” in Greek, and again the word for “ear” is referenced. Basically the Bat-eared Fox is known as EarDog BigEar, in Science-speak. Up to 90% of the Foxes’ diet consists of harvester termites, the remaining percentage made up of other kinds of termites, spiders, scorpions, millipedes, ants, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and very, very occasionally birds, reptiles and rodents.
Because the Bat-eared Fox is an insectivore, its teeth are proportionally small compared to those of other canids. Though they live in arid climate, most of their water intake comes from the insects they eat.
Bat-eared Foxes typically mate in monogamous pairs, although they have been observed to live in polygynous groups as well. The males typically take on the bulk of the responsibility to raise the kits, and the females (which give birth to litters of 1 to 6 kits) are generally only responsible for nursing the young until they’re weaned (usually 14 weeks).
There are two distinct subspecies of Bat-eared Fox, characterized based on the region in which they are found:
- Otocyon megalotis megalotis (Angola, Zambia and South Africa)
- Otocyon megalotis virgatus (Ethiopia, south Sudan and Tanzania)
Other common names for the Bat-eared Fox include big-eared fox, black-eared fox, cape fox and Delalande’s fox.