|Population||Unknown (2014 est.)|
|Conservation status||Least concern|
The bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis), also known as the big-eared, black-eared, or cape fox, is a wild fox of the family Canidae, and found throughout much of eastern and southern Africa.
The bat-eared fox is small, with a body length of 18 to 26 inches, a standing height at the shoulder of 12 to 16 inches, and a body weight of 7 to 12 pounds. They are a buff-brown in color, lightly-grizzled with gray. The legs, snout, and back stripe to the tip of the tail is a blackish-gray, as well as a "mask" surrounding the eyes to the mouth lining. The ears are very large with a white interior. Cubs are grayer in color, with smaller ears.
The animal was possibly named in reference to a species of bat (Nycteris thebaica), which also has very large ears and is common within that part of Africa.
- Otocyon megalotis canescens; southern Africa
- Otocyon megalotis megalotis; eastern Africa
Range and habitat
Bat-eared foxes live primarily in short-grass plains; they are also found within large areas characterized by scrub vegetation, bare ground, arid and semi-arid deserts and savannas. The northern subspecies is also found in open, taller-grassland of the Serengeti. Both subspecies have been known to have a range overlapping one of their primary food sources, the termites of genera Hodotermes and Microhodotermes.
Termites form a large amount of their diet, so much so that they are considered an effective means of termite control. in addition, they also prey upon other insects, small vertebrates, such as rodents, lizards, and frogs, birds eggs, and occasionally plants.
The ICUN classifies the bat-eared fox as "least concern", due to the species' extensive range and large population. However, it is still prosecuted to some extent; farmers consider it to be a threat to small livestock, and occasionally they are killed for the skins. Rabies is also a threat, as the disease will cause an immediate, localized population drop.