Bat-eared fox

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Bat-eared fox
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Mammalia
Sub-class Theriiformes
Infra-class Holotheria
Order Information
Superorder Preptotheria
Order Carnivora
Sub-order Caniformia
Infraorder Cynoidea
Family Information
Family Canidae
Sub-family Caninae
Tribe Information
Tribe Vulpini
Genus Information
Genus Otocyon
Species Information
Species O. megalotis
Population statistics
Population Unknown (2014 est.)[1]
Conservation status Least concern[2]

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[edit]

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[3]. 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[4]. 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[5], and occasionally they are killed for the skins. Rabies is also a threat, as the disease will cause an immediate, localized population drop[6][7].