Are you aware that there are more than 30 species of foxes? One of the most widely scattered animals on the earth is the red fox, which can be found in about every corner of our globe. Foxes are members of the Canidae family, which includes dogs and wolves. Over time, their species diverged from the rest of the pack and became distinct from wolves and dogs. The fox is one of the most distinctive animals in the animal kingdom. This group of mammals ranges in size from fennec foxes which weigh 2 to 3 pounds, to Red Foxes, which can weigh 30 pounds.
Foxes in Africa
Around six different kinds of foxes live on the African continent. Deserts, grasslands, and coastal areas are just a few of the diverse climate and biome types found in the African continent. Fennec foxes, red foxes, cape foxes, Ruppell’s foxes, pale foxes, and bat-eared foxes are the six fox species living on this continent.
The sands of the Sahara and other parts of North Africa are home to fennec foxes. Their nocturnal habits and physical modifications enable them to cope with the sweltering heat of the desert habitat. The foxes’ bat-like ears radiate their heat and safeguard them from overheating. They also have long, thick hair that keeps them warm at night and shields them from the sun’s rays when it’s hot outside. Fox’s feet are covered with hair, making them more like snowshoes and protecting them from the scorching sands of the Arabian deserts. Fennec foxes live underground dens; therefore, their feet are useful shovels. They live in tiny groups of around ten foxes, each in their natural habitat. Each year, when the mating season approaches, male fennecs become aggressive competitors and mark their territory with urine.
Fennec foxes are opportunistic feeders. They hunt for plants but also devour rodents, eggs, reptiles, and other insects as they go about their daily foraging. When it comes to water, the desert-dwelling fennec fox has developed the ability to go without. They have black tips on their tails, which are cream in color. The fennec fox is a favorite of the captive pet trade, and locals also hunt it for its fur. We don’t know anything about the fennec fox population in the wild.
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes), often known as the common fox, is a fox species found throughout Europe, temperate Asia, northern Africa, and North America. According to mythology, the red fox is regarded as a symbol of animal cunning and intelligence. The red fox is also hunted for sport for its fur and is raised commercially for its pelts.
Red foxes are generally between 90 and 105 cm long, with about 35 to 40 cm being the tail. They are also about 40 cm in height at the shoulder. Although the average adult weighs between 10 and 15 kilograms, the heaviest among species can weigh as much as 14 kilograms. With long guard hairs and thin underfur, the red fox’s coat is typically rich reddish-brown. The tail is often white-tipped, and the ears and legs are black.
Red foxes have adapted well to human presence and may be found in many metropolitan cities, suburbs, and other urban habitats, where they thrive in farms and woodlands. Mice, voles, and rabbits make up most of the fox’s diet, although he will also consume carrion, grain (particularly sunflower seeds), waste, unsecured pet food, and even domestic chicken if he can get his hands on it.
Cape foxes are the only real fox and South Africa’s smallest canid. The Cape Fox has enormous, pointed ears and a silvery coat. Those around the mouth appear to have a darker coloration. The average adult weighs between 2.5 and 3 kilograms and stands at a shoulder height of 350 millimeters. Their bushy tail serves as an efficient counterbalance when weaving and evading. They feed on various tiny animals, including insects and mice, as well as wild fruit and carrion in agricultural areas. The Cape Fox is a primarily nocturnal animal. Its social structure is unknown; however, it appears monogamous, like other canids. Open grassland plains with scattered thickets, semi-desert scrub, and even fynbos are the primary habitats of this species. The edges of water pans are a common place to find them. Cape Foxes are located across South Africa’s Western and Northern Cape provinces, the Eastern Cape, the Free State, Western and North-Northern KwaZulu-Natal, and the North-Worth provinces. Cape Foxes are frequently exterminated at night because of their nocturnal behavior and are still considered pests by many South African farms because of the notion that they harm lambs.
Another desert fox, the pale fox (Vulpes pallida), can be found in northern Africa in places like Sudan and Somalia. They are found throughout Africa’s deserts and grasslands. This species of fox is known for digging deep burrows in the ground and preferring locations with some flora. Foxes form family groups of three. Small to medium-sized foxes’ coats are brownish-tan with streaks of salt and pepper. They’ve occasionally been known to have a black circle under their eyes.
Small animals, rodents, lizards, insects, birds, and eggs make up the bulk of their food. Fennec foxes are commonly mistaken for these animals due to their similar appearance and geographic location in Africa.
Because it has been so poorly investigated, very little information is available on the wildlife of the mysterious Pale fox. The fact that this fox prefers to live in distant regions contributes to the lack of available data on the species. The Pale Fox, like most foxes in the desert zone, gets all of its water from its food; therefore, it may go for long periods without drinking. It is a nocturnal hunter that retreats to its den during the day. Two females and one male are in each pack of pale foxes, which makes for an interesting social structure. They excavate extensive burrows with tunnels up to ten or fifteen meters long and end in small chambers. Zakouma National Park in Chad is a beautiful site to look for Pale foxes in the wild.
The Rüppel’s fox is an elusive little mammal. It is primarily found in Afghanistan to the east of northern Africa. Its reddish-gray or sandy coat has a white tail tip and its hue changes depending on where it lives. It is slender and refined with a weight range of 2-5 pounds. When it comes to burrow-diggers, this desert fox is unusual. It hides from the day’s heat in caves and crevices, only coming out to hunt at night. They are omnivores that consume bugs, lizards, fruit, and carrion. Like many fox species, the Rüppel’s Fox has only one life partner.
Although they are less gregarious, Rüppell’s foxes can communicate using a wide range of sounds, and they live in monogamous pairs with their pups, like other fox species. Even though they don’t purr, they are claimed to wag their tails, which wild canids don’t typically do. Urine, but not feces, mark their territory, and they can wander up to 9 kilometers (512 miles) per night in quest of food. Early in the year, they mate and give birth to larger litters than the fennec fox. The easiest way to find wild Rüppells foxes is to join an organized tour, given their wide variety of habitats. Bouhedma National Park in Tunisia and the village of Award in Western Sahara are excellent places to look for them.
Like many bats, this fox gets its name because it has abnormally large ears for a fox. A light throat and underbelly distinguish their yellow-brown bodies. This creature has a raccoon-like “facial mask,” lower legs, and feet that are entirely black with shorter limbs that make them more agile. These foxes have more prominent teeth than most placental mammals, making them distinct from other foxes. More than eighty-five percent of the time, bat-eared foxes are nocturnal creatures. These creatures emerge from their burrows to dine on insects and other prey at night. Each year, a single fox can consume up to 1.15 million termites. It is estimated that termites and dung beetles account for around 80% of their diet. Other insects and arthropods, as well as tiny rodents, lizards, the eggs and chicks of other birds, and plant residues, are also eaten by termites. Water from the insects they eat is a significant source of water for them.
Large ears allow them to hear the hatching of beetle larvae from dung balls. Reversing directions without losing momentum is one of their most impressive abilities since they have an incredible ability to avoid predators. Mating pairs and their young bat-eared foxes all dwell together in one group. They have a litter of three to six puppies every year and are usually monogamous. These extended families frequently socialize, play, and even sleep as a unit. Males take an equal or more significant role in the care of their young in guarding, grooming, and playing with them than their female counterparts. Bat-eared fox pelts are hunted in Botswana. Trophies are sought in South Africa, where hunting is popular. In addition, they are frequently viewed as a danger to small livestock and potential prey.