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A bat-eared fox standing in the grass

The amazing Bat-eared Fox!

One of my favorite animals, the Bat-eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis), lives in one of my favorite places: the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa. (There’s a separate population in North-East Africa.) You can normally find them at dawn or dusk cuddling in pairs by their den. Primarily monogamous, the bat-eared fox couple uses this time to reinforce bonds, groom, and play together while enjoying a bit of sunshine before returning to their underground burrow for the day.  They are distinguishable by their huge ears and dark eye mask. Here are four interesting facts about the Bat-eared Fox!

A pair of bat-eared fox laying down in the grass

A pair of Bat-eared Foxes cuddling together at sunrise in Bostswana

 

1) A Fox That Eats … Termites?

This little fox won’t raid your chicken coop at night. They don’t eat chickens! Instead they eat all kinds of insects (and occasionally small rodents). Their favorite insect is the termite and the distribution of these small African foxes matches that of the harvester termite (Hodotermes mossambicus) which they lick up by the thousands while feeding at night! Other insects they feed on are grasshoppers and beetle larvae.

Bat-eared foxes foraging

A mating pair of Bat-eared Foxes foraging for termites together at sunset in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana.

 

2) The Bat-Eared Fox Has a Tiny Mouth With Tons of Teeth

Their mouth is totally crazy. In their tiny mouth they fit 46 to 50 sharp, cusped teeth. Perfect for slicing hard-shelled and pincered insects! That’s more teeth than almost any land mammal! (The Virginia Opossum has 50, and the Giant Armadillo – another termite-eater – can have up to 100!)

Bat-eared fox yawning; showing teeth

How many teeth can you fit in the tiny mouth of a Bat-eared Fox? 50!

 

3) The Fastest Jaw in the West

Another crazy fact about the mouth of bat-eared foxes. They have a special muscle arrangement at the back of their jaw, which allows them to chew 5 times per second! That makes them a perfect termite-mashing machine!

Bat-eared fox resting

Those tiny jaws are super-efficient bug smashers!

 

4) Those Ears are Not for Flying

Their huge ears (both external and internal) are designed to detect even the tiniest insects moving around. Using their bat-like ears as twin satellite dishes they can even detect beetle larvae that are a foot underground!

Bat-eared fox standing, looking at the camera.

Check out those ears! Imagine if each of your ears was bigger than your entire face! (Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa)

 

Do you want to learn more cool stuff about other animals? Check out our other Four Animal Facts.