Bat-eared fox

The bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) is a species of fox found on the African savanna, named for its large ears,[4] which are used for thermoregulation.[3] Fossil records show this canid first appeared during the middle Pleistocene, about 800,000 years ago.[4] It is considered a basal canid species, resembling ancestral forms of the family.[5]

The bat-eared fox (also referred to as Delalande's fox,[6] long-eared fox,[6] big-eared fox, and black-eared fox) has tawny fur with black ears, legs, and parts of the pointed face. It averages 55 centimetres (22 in) in length (head and body), with ears 13 centimetres (5.1 in) long. It is the only species in the genus Otocyon.[1] 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.[3]

Bat-eared fox[1]
Otocyon megalotis - Etosha 2014
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Caninae
Genus: Otocyon
Müller, 1835
O. megalotis
Binomial name
Otocyon megalotis
(Desmarest, 1822)
  • O. megalotis megalotis
  • O. megalotis virgatus
Bat-eared Fox area
Bat-eared fox range
  • Canis megalotis Desmarest, 1822
  • Canis lalandii Desmoulins, 1823
  • Otocyon caffer Müller, 1836
  • Agriodus auritus H. Smith, 1840
  • Otocyon virgatus Miller, 1909
  • Otocyon canescens Cabrera, 1910
  • Otocyon steinhardti Zukowsky, 1924
Bat Eared Fox Individual
Bat Eared Fox at Masai Mara National Reserve

Range and distribution

Two allopatric populations (subspecies) occur in Africa. O. m. virgatus occurs from Ethiopia and southern Sudan to Tanzania. The other population, O. m. 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.[3]


The bat-eared fox commonly occurs in short grasslands, as well as the more arid regions of the savanna. It prefers bare ground and areas where grass is kept short by grazing ungulates.[3] It tends to hunt in these short grass and low shrub habitats. However, it does venture into areas with tall grasses and thick shrubs to hide when threatened.[7]

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.[3]


The bat-eared fox is predominantly an insectivore that uses its large ears to locate its prey. About 80–90% of their diet is harvester termites (Hodotermes mossambicus). When this particular species of termite is not available, they 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 desert truffle Kalaharituber pfeilii[8]). 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.[3]


The teeth of the bat-eared fox are much smaller and reduced in shearing surface formation than teeth of other canid species. This is an adaptation to its insectivorous diet.[9] Due to its unusual teeth, the bat-eared fox was once considered as a distinct subfamily of canids (Otocyoninae). However, according to more recent examinations, it is more closely related to the true foxes of the genus Vulpes. Other research places the genus as an outgroup which is not very closely related to foxes.[10] The bat-eared fox is an old species that was widely distributed in the Pleistocene era. The teeth are not the bat-eared fox's only morphological adaptation for its diet. The lower jaw has a step-like protrusion called the subangular process, which anchors the large muscle to allow for rapid chewing. The digastric muscle is also modified to open and close the jaw five times per second.[3]


Bat-eared foxes usually hunt in groups, mostly in pairs and groups of three. Individuals forage alone after family groups break in June or July and during the months after cub birth. Prey is located primarily by auditory means, rather than by smell or sight. Foraging patterns vary between seasons and coincide with termite availability. In the midsummer, individuals begin foraging at sunset, continuing throughout the night, and fading into the early morning. Foraging is almost exclusively diurnal during the winter it usually occurs in patches, which match the clumped prey resources, such as termite colonies, that also occur in patches. Groups are able to forage on clumps of prey in patches because they do not fight each other for food due to their degree of sociality and lack of territoriality.[7]


In the more northern areas of its range (around Serengeti), they are nocturnal 85% of the time. However, around South Africa, they are nocturnal only in the summer and diurnal during the winter.[11]

Bat-eared foxes are highly social animals. 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.[3]

Otocyon megalotis Dvur zoo 1
Threat display of bat-eared fox

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 30 m 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.[3]


The bat-eared fox is predominantly socially monogamous,[12] 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 gestation for 60–70 days and give birth to litters consisting of one to six kits. Beyond lactation, which lasts 14 to 15 weeks,[3] 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.[13] The female forages for food, which she uses to maintain milk production, on which the pups heavily depend. Food foraged by the female is not brought back to the pups or regurgitated to feed the pups.[3]

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.[3]

Conservation threats

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.[3] Additional threats to populations include disease and drought that can harm populations of prey; however, no major threats to bat-eared fox populations exist.[2]


  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Nel, J.A.J. & Maas, B. (2008). "Otocyon megalotis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Clark, H. O. (2005). "Otocyon megalotis". Mammalian Species. 766: 1–5. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2005)766[0001:OM]2.0.CO;2.
  4. ^ a b Paleobiology Database: Otocyon Basic info.
  5. ^ Macdonald, David W.; Sillero-Zubir, Claudio (2004-06-24), The Biology and Conservation of Wild Canids, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780191523359, retrieved February 16, 2016
  6. ^ a b The Encyclopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. At the University Press. 1910. p. 770.
  7. ^ a b Kuntzsch, V.; Nel, J.A.J. (1992). "Diet of bat-eared foxes Otocyon megalotis in the Karoo". Koedoe. 35 (2): 37–48. doi:10.4102/koedoe.v35i2.403.
  8. ^ Trappe JM, Claridge AW, Arora D, Smit WA (2008). "Desert truffles of the Kalahari: ecology, ethnomycology and taxonomy". Economic Botany. 62 (3): 521–529. doi:10.1007/s12231-008-9027-6.
  9. ^ Kieser, J.A. (May 1995). "Gnathomandibular Morphology and Character Displacement in the Bat-eared Fox". Journal of Mammalogy. 76 (2): 542–550. doi:10.2307/1382362. JSTOR 1382362.
  10. ^ Westbury, Michael; Dalerum, Fredrik; Norén, Karin; Hofreiter, Michael (2017-01-01). "Complete mitochondrial genome of a bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis), along with phylogenetic considerations". Mitochondrial DNA Part B. 2 (1): 298–299. doi:10.1080/23802359.2017.1331325.
  11. ^ Thompson, Paul. "Otocyon megalotis,bat-eared fox". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  12. ^ Wright, Harry WY; et al. (2010). "Mating tactics and paternity in a socially monogamous canid, the bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis)". Journal of Mammalogy. 91 (2): 437–446. doi:10.1644/09-mamm-a-046.1.
  13. ^ Wright, Harry William Yorkstone (2006). "Paternal den attendance is the best predictor of offspring survival in the socially monogamous bat-eared fox". Animal Behaviour. 71 (3): 503–510. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2005.03.043.
Bat ear

Bat ear may refer to:

Protruding ear, an abnormally protruding human ear

A shape of dog ear, see Canine terminology

The ear of a bat, used for echolocation

The ear of a nocturnal insect, primarily used to detect calls from insectivorous bats


The biological family Canidae

(from Latin, canis, “dog”) is a lineage of carnivorans that includes domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, dingoes, and many other extant and extinct dog-like mammals. A member of this family is called a canid (, ).The cat-like feliforms and dog-like caniforms emerged within the Carnivoramorpha 43 million years before present. The caniforms included the fox-like genus Leptocyon whose various species existed from 34 million years ago (Mya) before branching 11.9 Mya into Vulpini (foxes) and Canini (canines).Canids are found on all continents except Antarctica, having arrived independently or accompanied human beings over extended periods of time. Canids vary in size from the 2-m-long (6 ft 7 in) gray wolf to the 24-cm-long (9.4 in) fennec fox. The body forms of canids are similar, typically having long muzzles, upright ears, teeth adapted for cracking bones and slicing flesh, long legs, and bushy tails. They are mostly social animals, living together in family units or small groups and behaving co-operatively. Typically, only the dominant pair in a group breeds, and a litter of young is reared annually in an underground den. Canids communicate by scent signals and vocalizations. They are very intelligent. One canid, the domestic dog, long ago entered into a partnership with humans and today remains one of the most widely kept domestic animals.


In the history of the carnivores, the family Canidae is represented by the two extinct subfamilies designated as Hesperocyoninae and Borophaginae, and the extant subfamily Caninae. This subfamily includes all living canids and their most recent fossil relatives. Their fossils have been found in Lower Oligocene North America, and they did not spread to Asia until the end of the Miocene, some 7 million to 8 million years ago. Many extinct species of Caninae were endemic to North America, living from 34 million to 11,000 years ago.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an extensive national park in the Kalahari desert of Botswana. Established in 1961 it covers an area of 52,800 square kilometres (20,400 sq mi) (larger than the Netherlands, and almost 10% of Botswana's total land area), making it the second largest game reserve in the world.The park contains wildlife such as South African giraffe, bush elephant, white rhino, cape buffalo, spotted hyena, brown hyena, honey badger, meerkat, yellow mongoose, warthog, South African cheetah, caracal, Cape wild dog, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, cape fox, African leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, plains zebra, common eland, sable antelope, gemsbok, springbok, steenbok, impala, greater kudu, aardvark, cape ground squirrel, cape hare, cape porcupine, chacma baboon, red hartebeest and ostrich.

The land is mostly flat, and gently undulating covered with bush and grasses covering the sand dunes, and areas of larger trees. Many of the river valleys are fossilized with salt pans. Four fossilized rivers meander through the reserve including Deception Valley which began to form around 16,000 years ago.The Bushmen, or San, have inhabited the lands for thousands of years since they roamed the area as nomadic hunters. However, since the mid-1990s the Botswana government has tried to relocate the Bushmen from the reserve, claiming they were a drain on financial resources despite revenues from tourism. In 1997, three quarters of the entire San population were relocated from the reserve, and in October 2005 the government had resumed the forced relocation into resettlement camps outside of the park leaving only about 250 permanent occupiers. In 2006 a Botswana court proclaimed the eviction illegal and affirmed the Bushmen's right to return to living in the reserve. However, as of 2015 most Bushmen are blocked from access to their traditional lands in the reserve. A nationwide ban on hunting made it illegal for the Bushmen to practice their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, despite allowing private game ranches to provide hunting opportunities for tourists.In 2014 a diamond mine operated by Gem Diamonds opened in the southeast portion of the reserve. The company estimated that the mine could yield $4.9 billion worth of diamonds. The Rapaport Diamond Report, a diamond-industry pricing guide, stated, "Ghaghoo's launch was not without controversy [...] given its location on the ancestral land of the Bushmen".A huge bush fire in and around the park in the middle of September 2008 burnt around 80 percent of the reserve. The origin of the fire remains unknown.

Cozumel fox

The Cozumel fox is an undescribed species of fox in the genus Urocyon, which is apparently close to extinction or already extinct. It is (or was until recently) found on the island of Cozumel, Mexico. The last reported sighting was in 2001, but surveys focusing on this species have not yet been carried out. The Cozumel fox, which has not been scientifically described to date, is a dwarf form like the island fox but slightly larger, being up to three-quarters the size of the gray fox. It had been isolated on the island for at least 5,000 years, and probably far longer. This would indicate that the colonization of the island of Cozumel by Urocyon predates that of humans.

Deadly (UK TV series)

Deadly... is a strand of British wildlife documentary programming aimed principally at children and young people, which is broadcast on CBBC on BBC One and Two and on the CBBC Channel. It is presented by Steve Backshall, with Naomi Wilkinson as co-host on Live 'n Deadly, and Barney Harwood as co-host on Natural Born Hunters. The strand began with a single series known as Deadly 60, and has subsequently expanded into a number of spin-offs, re-edits and follow-up versions.

Fennec fox

The Fennec fox, or fennec (Vulpes zerda), is a small crepuscular fox found in the Sahara of North Africa, the Sinai Peninsula, South West Israel (Arava desert) and the Arabian desert. Its most distinctive feature is its unusually large ears, which also serve to dissipate heat. Its name comes from the Berber word (fanak), which means fox, and the species name zerda comes from the Greek word xeros which means dry, referring to the fox's habitat. The fennec is the smallest species of canid. Its coat, ears, and kidney functions have adapted to high-temperature, low-water, desert environments. Also, its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground. It mainly eats insects, small mammals, and birds.

The fennec has a life span of up to 14 years in captivity. Its main predators are the African varieties of eagle owl, jackals, and other large mammals. Families of fennecs dig out dens in the sand for habitation and protection, which can be as large as 120 m2 (1,292 sq ft) and adjoin the dens of other families. Precise population figures are not known but are estimated from the frequency of sightings; these indicate that the animal is currently not threatened by extinction. Knowledge of social interactions is limited to information gathered from captive animals. The species is usually assigned to the genus Vulpes; however, this is debated due to differences between the fennec fox and other fox species. The fennec's fur is prized by the indigenous peoples of North Africa, and in some parts of the world, the animal is considered an exotic pet.


Foxes are small-to-medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. Foxes have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or brush).

Twelve species belong to the monophyletic "true foxes" group of genus Vulpes. Approximately another 25 current or extinct species are always or sometimes called foxes; these foxes are either part of the paraphyletic group of the South American foxes, or of the outlying group, which consists of bat-eared fox, gray fox, and island fox. Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with about 47 recognized subspecies. The global distribution of foxes, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their prominence in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world. The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially in the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.


Kitengela is a plain in Kenya, located south of capital Nairobi. Kitengela begun as The Kitengela group ranch, made up of 18,292 ha and 214 registered members which was subdivided in 1988 in efforts by the Government to encourage private land ownership in pastoral systems, with the aim of intensifying and commercializing livestock production. After subdivision of the group ranch, land fragmentation and sales have continued at a steady and escalating pace. The human population within the Kitengela area has more than doubled in the last 10 years, from 6548 in 1989 to 17,347 in 1999 to 58,167 in 2009. There is also a town named Kitengela in the area.

Close to Nairobi National Park is also the Kitengela Game Conservation Area populated with buffalo, Masai giraffe, eastern black rhino, Common eland, impala, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, common waterbuck and Defassa waterbuck, hippopotamus, common warthog, olive baboon, monkeys and the attendant carnivores – lion, spotted hyena, cheetah, side-striped and black-backed jackals, African golden wolves, bat-eared fox and smaller carnivores.

The diversity of species is decreasing in the Kitengela area adjacent to the Nairobi National Park,

where land-uses not compatible with wildlife are increasing.

List of nocturnal animals

This is a list of nocturnal alligator and groups of animals. Birds are listed separately in the List of nocturnal birds.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Mabula Game Reserve

Mabula Game Reserve is a private game reserve situated in the Limpopo province of South Africa. It is about 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) in area and is about 47 km from Bela Bela (Warmbaths). The current owner of Mabula Game Reserve is the Indian businessman baron Vijay Mallya.

Nxai Pan National Park

Nxai Pan National Park is a national park in north-eastern Botswana, consisting of Nxai Pan, which is one of the Makgadikgadi Pan salt flats. Nxai Pan National Park lies just north of the Maun-Nata main road and adjoins Makgadikgadi Pans National Park on its northern border. The pan itself is a fossil lakebed about 40 square km in size.The National Park is also home to the cluster of millennia-old baobab trees, which owe their name to Thomas Baines, the man known to have discovered them. Baines’ Baobabs, as they are known today, are a sight sought by many travelers venturing into this untamed terrain of Botswana.


Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.

Opisthacanthus capensis

Opisthacanthus capensis (Thorell, 1876) is a Cape Province and Zimbabwean species of scorpion with robust chelae, dark brown to black in colour, turning green when under cover for some time. Opisthacanthus is arboreal and ground-dwelling, and found mainly in moist habitats in dense vegetation, pine plantations and forests, hiding under bark and rocks. There are 32 species and subspecies in this genus, all occurring in Southern Africa.Its venom contains powerful neurotoxins and cytotoxins, including mucopolysaccharides, hyaluronidases, phospholipases, serotonins, histamines, enzyme inhibitors, and proteins such as neurotoxic peptides. The venom from O. capensis is largely composed of melittin which stimulates the release of the enzyme phospholipase A2 causing inflammation and pain. Phospholipase A2 cleaves the SN-2 acyl chain, releasing arachidonic acid.

This species features in the diets of the bat-eared fox Otocyon megalotis (Canidae), the yellow mongoose Cynictis penicillata, the small grey mongoose Galerella pulverulenta, and the water mongoose Atilax paludinosus (Viverridae).

Oudebaaskraal Dam

Oudebaaskraal Dam is an earth-fill type dam located on the Tankwa River near Ceres, Western Cape, South Africa. It was established in 1969 and serves mainly for irrigation purposes. The hazard potential of the dam has been ranked significant (2).

Oudebaaskraal Dam is next to Wadrif and is located in Cape Winelands District Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa. Oudebaaskraal Dam has a length of 14.34 kilometres.A game drive in the stony desert area around the Oudebaaskraal Dam is probably the best chance of spotting some of the animals that have been reintroduced into the Tankwa Karoo National Park, like gemsbok, springbok, hartebeest and Cape mountain zebra. Perhaps even a bat-eared fox and a tortoise or two. Hundreds of Pink Flamingos can be spotted there at certain times, and the areas of the dam which are covered in algae have a kelp type smell similar to the ocean.

Una Rooi

Katriena |Una Kassie Rooi was one of the last eight speakers of Nuu language, also known as N/uu, n/huki, ‡Khomani, South Africa's last original San language. Ouma |Una Rooi, or Kaitjie as she was affectionately known, was born in 1930 at Tweerivieren (≠aka≠nous), in what is now the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which straddles the boundary between South Africa and Botswana. She died on 3 March 2012. |Una was the fourth child of |Khuka and Ari Kassie. |Una, her San name, refers to the soft powder puff, made from the ear of a bat-eared fox. The |una is used to spread buchu powder on new born babies, which is traditionally carried in a purse made from the shell of a geometric tortoise.

Aged five, she was taken to Johannesburg as part of the 'Bushman' display at the British Empire Exhibition. at this time she was separated from her parents and raised by her grandparents. ‡Han Kassie, her grandfather, featured prominently in the photographs of the Empire Exhibition. Her time with her grandparents helped deepen her knowledge of traditional mythology and beliefs of the N||‡e culture and language which were in the process of dying out. She later travelled to Durban and Cape Town. Her people lost their land and all their possessions in 1937 and lived for decades in poverty and obscurity.Sociolinguist Nigel Crawhall met Rooi in the township of Swartkop, outside Upington in the Northern Cape in 1997. He records that "she and her sisters provided key evidence to help the ≠Khomani (N||n≠e) people regain a small portion of their land through a land claim.". Rooi provided important information on sites within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, including the names of rivers, pans and gravesites that provided evidence of original occupation. The N|uu language had been documented as early as 1896 by missionary Heinrich Pabst, 1910 by Austrian philologist Rudolf Pöch, and 1912 by Dorothea Bleek.

Crawhall also recalls that: "When the ≠Khomani people made their first book about their culture and heritage, Enter the Light, we asked Ouma |Una to give the book a title that summarised their experience of freedom, oppression, dispossession, violence, poverty, democracy and restitution. Ouma |Una was not one to nurse a grudge, her heart always sought peace and reconciliation. She called the book after a N/uu saying: i hunike xu a ||ga, i ke hunike |'e a q!uruke (We all came out of that darkness, and we together enter into the light)."On language death, Rooi observed: "If a person who speaks our language dies then our language also dies. When you cover him with sand the language is not like a plant that grows again."

Extant Carnivora species

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