Bat-eared foxes

The past two months there has been great excitement on the reserve with the occasional sighting of a family of five Bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis) on the plateau between Wooded Peaks and Tshimondi.

Recently there have been a number of sightings of the breeding pair feeding in the broad daylight near Tshimondi. This is unusual as Bat-eared foxes are normally nocturnal looking for their main diet of insects and harvester termites.

They will occasionally eat rodents, dung beetles and birds eggs, but insects make out 80 % of their diet. Their unusually large ears are perfectly adapted to even hear ants working under ground.

On Welgevonden, Bat-eared Foxes appear to have adapted their feeding habits to counter the lack of insects in the cold winter. They do this by following the herds of wildebeest and other herbivores that disturb insects while busy grazing and moving through the veld. The bat-eared foxes then take the opportunity to pounce on these exposed insects. They also feed on the insects attracted to the dung. Interestingly they reside in their own genus, one of the reasons being that they have 6 more teeth than other Canids.

It has been noted that they sire between 2 and 6 pups. With only the 2 adults being sighted of late we can assume that the parents have evicted the pups to find a mate and to carry on with a life of their own.

Larger predators and scavengers have been known to kill these diminutive foxes, but with their short legs, they can run very fast and evade attackers with short sharp turns. The little foxes are a huge attraction with the game drives and rightly so, who can not look at that face and not say: “Aah cute!”