Early in the morning I was out on leopard tracking with my guests from Plains camp. We started our drive south of the Grand African Villa – which is the only accommodation situated in secluded wilderness – where I was able to show my guests a lot of interesting things. But the highlight was definitely the sighting of a Bat-eared fox – an animal that mainly is active during night time and therefore rather rarely to see.
The Bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) belongs to the family Canidae and is named for its large, bat-wing shaped ears, which can grow up to 14 cm in length. The large ears facilitate to locate their prey and also play a crucial role in communication purposes. In fact, the species name megalotis means “large-eared” – coming from the greek words “mega” and “otus”.
Bat-eared foxes mainly feed on small invertebrates. The majority of its diet is made up of harvester termites, beetles and grasshoppers, but also includes other prey such as scorpions, spiders and sporadically rodents and birds. They usually forage in pairs or occasionally in small family groups depending on the availability of prey.
Bat-eared foxes are monogamous and pair for life but don’t keep a territory. Preferring short grass habitats over woodland , dens are often found in close vicinity to large herbivores that have been grazing and trampling the area around the den and where dung beetles are plentiful. After a gestation period of two months, the female will give birth to one – five cubs. Both, male and female are involved in raising the offspring and the males play a central role in guarding the pups while the female scouts for food to maintain her milk production.
Daniel Augustus (Okonjima Guide)