San Diego Zoo Safari Park Welcomes Three Bat-eared Fox Kits

| July 5, 2023 | 0 Comments

Three young bat-eared foxes, recently born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, are now venturing out of the den and into their habitat. The kits are spending more time outside of the den with their mother, Winter—a first-time mom. They enjoy wrestling with one another and playing with mom’s big ears. Their current daily activities include chasing each other’s tails and catching crickets. Wildlife care specialists have confirmed that the three youngsters are doing well, and are nursing throughout the day and night. Within the past few days, they have started to eat solid food—and mealworms are their current favorites. Winter and her kits can be seen now at the Safari Park’s Nairobi Village area.

The bat-eared fox is a small, African fox known for its enormous ears, which are over five inches tall. The ears are full of blood vessels that shed heat and help keep the fox cool; they also give the fox a very good sense of hearing. 

Bat-eared foxes are sandy gray with lighter fur on the belly and darker fur around the eyes, muzzle, back of the ears, feet, and tip of its long, bushy tail. The inside of the ears and a band across the forehead are white or buff.

Bat-eared foxes don’t seem to mind sharing their territory. Up to 72 foxes have been recorded in one square mile.

In the short-grass savannas and scrublands of eastern and southern Africa, it’s not unusual to find groups of bat-eared foxes occupying the same area, something uncommon among other wild dogs. Their wide habitat range matches that of their favorite food, the harvester termite. Bat-eared foxes usually live in groups of two to five individuals that have overlapping territories of almost 200 acres.

A bat-eared fox family has several den holes in its territory, each with many entrances, tunnels, and chambers. The foxes’ claws are made for digging, and they can create their own burrow or enlarge an empty one made by other wildlife. They are even known to use old termite mounds as dens. The den is a protected area where the group sleeps and where the females give birth.

Predators that prey on bat-eared foxes include eagles, jackals, and hyenas.

This fox eats insects, with termites making up to 70 percent of its diet. Besides termites, which it licks up from the ground, the bat-eared fox eats dung beetles and their larvae, grasshoppers, scorpions, spiders, millipedes, rodents, lizards, fruits, and eggs. But insects make up the main part of its diet. 

Bat-eared foxes have more teeth (46 to 50) than most mammals, and that’s what sets them apart from other foxes. While other members of the dog family have two upper and three lower molars on each side of the mouth, bat-eared foxes have three upper and four lower molars. Specialized teeth chew their creeping, crawling food, and those huge ears can listen for insects moving around. 

Bat-eared foxes at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park eat a fortified meat-based commercial carnivore diet, dog kibble, a small mouse, mealworms, and crickets. Wildlife care specialists say mealworms are their favorite—like fox candy.

Three little bat-eared foxes are cautiously venturing out of their den to experience life in San Diego.

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