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!
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.
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!)
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!
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!
Where to See Bat Eared Foxes
If you want to see bat-eared foxes in the wild then head to Namibia, Botswana or South Africa. Our favorite parks to watch bat-eared foxes include the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (in both South Africa & Botswana), the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (in Botwsana), and at the Kalahari Anib Lodge in Namibia.
Do you want to learn more cool stuff about other animals? Check out our other Four Animal Facts.
Brindley is an American conservation biologist, wildlife photographer, filmmaker, writer, and illustrator living in Asheville, NC. He studied black-footed cats in Namibia for his master’s research, has traveled to all seven continents, and loves native plant gardening. See more of his work at Travel for Wildlife, Truly Wild, Our Wild Yard, & Naturalist Studio.