The corsac fox (Vulpes corsac), also known simply as a corsac, is a medium-sized fox found in steppes, semi-deserts and deserts in Central Asia, ranging into Mongolia and northeastern China. Since 2004, it has been classified as least concern by IUCN, but populations fluctuate significantly, and numbers can drop tenfold within a single year.
It is also known as the steppe fox, and sometimes referred to as the "sand fox", but this terminology is confusing because two other species, the Tibetan sand fox and Rüppell's fox are also sometimes known by this name. The word "corsac" is derived from the Russian name for the animal, "korsák" (корса́к), derived ultimately from Turkic "karsak". The corsac fox is threatened by hunting for the fur trade.
|Corsac fox range|
The corsac fox is a medium-sized fox, with a head and body length of 45 to 65 cm (18 to 26 in), and a tail 19 to 35 cm (7.5 to 13.8 in) long. Adults weigh from 1.6 to 3.2 kilograms (3.5 to 7.1 lb). It has grey to yellowish fur over much of the body, with paler underparts and pale markings on the mouth, chin, and throat. During the winter, the coat becomes much thicker and silkier in texture, and is straw-grey in colour, with a darker line running down the back.
For a fox, it has small teeth and a wide skull. One source claims that this species can climb trees and has been domesticated in the past. It is reported to have keen eyesight and hearing and an acute sense of smell. It has a number of scent glands, some of which produce pungent odours, although not as extreme as those found in some other Vulpes species. The glands are found in the anal region, above the base of the tail, and on the paws and cheeks.
Corsac foxes are reported to bark during hunting or when threatening rivals, and to use higher pitch yelps or chirps as alarm calls or social greetings.
Corsac foxes live in the steppes and semidesert of central and northeast Asia. They are found throughout Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and through all except the northernmost regions of Mongolia. In the south, their range extends into the more northern parts of Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and China, and they can also be found in neighbouring regions of Russia.
Three subspecies are currently recognised:
These foxes inhabit open grassy steppes and semideserts, and avoid dense vegetation and mountainous regions. True deserts with drifting sands are also avoided, as are snowfields more than about 15 cm (6 in) deep. Corsac foxes generally stay far away from human disturbances.
As an adaption to the arid climate in which they live, corsac foxes need little water to survive, obtaining most of the moisture they need from their food. Their diets consist mainly of insects and small rodents, such as voles, gerbils, jerboas, hamsters, and ground squirrels. They may also eat larger prey from time to time, including hares and pikas, and will scavenge for carrion and human refuse. Although predominantly carnivorous, they do occasionally eat fruit and other vegetation, especially when animal prey are scarce. Natural predators of corsac foxes include wolves, eagles, buzzards, and eagle-owls.
Corsac foxes are nocturnal and nomadic hunters of the steppes. They do not have a defended territory, and unlike some foxes, will sometimes form packs. Because they cannot hunt in deep snow, they will either shelter in their dens during harsh weather, or, in the northern parts of their range, they may migrate up to 600 km (370 mi) south in the winter. They have been reported to follow herds of local antelope, relying on them to compress the snow as they pass.
Their prey is often buried in caches.
Corsac foxes shelter in burrows from harsh weather and larger predators. Although they can dig their own dens, these are generally shallow, and they often take over the burrows of other animals, such as marmots, ground squirrels, or badgers. Dens may have several entrances, but are usually less than 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) deep. The burrow is shared between the social packs, with several dens and connecting holes.
Corsac foxes are excellent climbers, but are rather slow runners and could be caught easily by a dog. While they are reported to be nocturnal in the wild, in captivity they are very active during the day. This can be explained by increasing human disturbances, causing them to become active at night to avoid humans.
The mating season starts in January and ends in March. Males will initially fight for access to females, but eventually establish a monogamous bond, and assist in the raising of their young. The mother initially creates a birthing den, which is sometimes shared with other pregnant females, but moves her young to new burrows several times after they are born.
Typically, two to six young are born after a gestation period of 52 to 60 days, although cases of ten kits being born in a single litter have been reported. Newborn kits weigh around 60 g (2.1 oz), and have fluffy, light brown fur that turns yellowish as they age. They are born blind, and open their eyes at around two weeks of age; they begin to eat meat at four weeks, and emerge from the den shortly after. Corsac foxes reach sexual maturity within 9 to 10 months and reproduce in the second year of life. They live up to 9 years in the wild.
The corsac fox is one species within a holarctic clade of foxes that also includes the red fox, the swift fox and the Arctic fox, all of which it resembles. However, the closest related species to the corsac fox is probably the Tibetan sand fox. The immediate ancestor of the corsac fox is believed to be the extinct species Vulpes praecorsac, which lived in central Europe during the early Pleistocene. Fossils of corsac foxes date back to the mid-Pleistocene, and show the species once reached as far west as Switzerland, and as far south as Crimea.
The major threat posed to the corsac fox is poaching. They are slow runners and are easily caught by hunters, and their population has been reduced in areas where they have been heavily hunted for their fur. In the late 19th century, up to 10,000 foxes were killed annually for pelt trade. The general population remains healthy, however, as the corsac fox has proven to be able to withstand great hunting pressures, and their habitats remain intact due to the low population density in its range. Their other main threat is natural disasters, which can cause the numbers of foxes to drop 90% in some areas, but the population often recovers quickly. As of 2008, the corsac fox is listed as least concern in the IUCN Red List.
The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.Barsa-Kelmes Nature Reserve
Barsa-Kelmes Nature Reserve is a wildlife refuge on the former island of Barsa-Kelmes in Kyzylorda Region of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia.
It was founded in 1939. The island on which the reserve is situated is in the Aral Sea. Its territory is around 300 square kilometres. Some 250 species of plants constitute its flora. Its fauna numbers 56 species of animals, and includes, among others, the Transcaspian wild ass, goitered gazelle, corsac fox, and Eurasian wolf. There are 203 bird species in the area.Canidae
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, 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.Eurasian Steppe
The Eurasian Steppe, also called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It stretches from Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova through Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang, and Mongolia to Manchuria, with one major exclave, the Pannonian steppe or Puszta, located mostly in Hungary and partially in Serbia and Croatia.Since the Paleolithic age, the Steppe route has connected Eastern Europe, Central Asia, China, South Asia, and the Middle East economically, politically, and culturally through overland trade routes. The Steppe route is a predecessor not only of the Silk Road which developed during antiquity and the Middle Ages, but also of the Eurasian Land Bridge in the modern era. It has been home to nomadic empires and many large tribal confederations and ancient states throughout history, such as the Xiongnu, Scythia, Cimmeria, Sarmatia, Hunnic Empire, Chorasmia, Transoxiana, Sogdiana, Xianbei, Mongols, and Göktürk Khaganate.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.Ferret-badger
Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.
Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)
Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area
Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area is a nature reserve in Gobi desert, situated in the south-western part of Mongolia at the border with China. A similar reserve in a drier part of the Gobi exists further to the east - the Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area.Khongoryn Els
Khongoryn Els also called Duut Mankhan is popularly known as the "Singing Sands". It lies within the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in Mongolia. The sand dunes extend to over 965 square kilometres (373 sq mi) area.Lutrogale
Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.Mephitis (genus)
The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.Mongolian-Manchurian grassland
The Mongolian-Manchurian grassland ecoregion, also known as the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe, in the temperate grassland Biome, is found in Mongolia, the Chinese Autonomous region of Inner Mongolia and northeastern China.Nyctereutes
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.Parco Safari delle Langhe
Parco Safari delle Langhe is a Safari park, Zoo and Amusement park in Murazzano, Piedmont, northern Italy, created in 1976; extending over an area of 700.000 square metres.Rüppell's fox
Rüppell's fox (Vulpes rueppellii), also spelled Rueppell's fox, is a species of fox living in North Africa, the Middle East, and southwestern Asia. It is named after the German naturalist Eduard Rüppell. This fox is also called the sand fox, but this terminology is confusing because the corsac fox (V. corsac) and the Tibetan sand fox (V. ferrilata) are also known as "sand foxes".Sand fox
Sand fox can refer to any of these animal species:
Tibetan sand foxTibetan sand fox
The Tibetan sand fox (Vulpes ferrilata) is a species of true fox endemic to the high Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh plateau, Nepal, China, Sikkim, and Bhutan, up to altitudes of about 5300 m. It is classed as of "least concern" for extinction by the IUCN, on account of its widespread range in the Tibetan Plateau's steppes and semi-deserts.
It is sometimes referred to as the Tibetan fox, or simply as the sand fox, but this terminology is confusing because the corsac fox (Vulpes corsac), which lives in arid environments north and west of the Tibetan Plateau, is often called the "sand fox" or "Tibetan fox" as well. The Rüppell's fox (Vulpes rueppellii) is also known as the "sand fox".Vulpes
Vulpes is a genus of the Canidae. The members of this genus are colloquially referred to as true foxes, meaning they form a proper clade. The word "fox" occurs on the common names of species. True foxes are distinguished from members of the genus Canis, such as dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, by their smaller size (5–11 kg) and flatter skulls. They have black, triangular markings between their eyes and noses, and the tips of their tails are often a different color from the rest of their pelts. The typical lifespan for this genus is between two and four years, but can reach up to a decade.For animals commonly known as "foxes", but which are not true foxes, see Fox#Classification.
Extant Carnivora species