Tanzania: Serenegeti NP – Bat-eared Foxes
In all the previous trips to Africa, this was one of the animals I always wanted to see, but never did – bat-eared foxes. They are quite rare and nocturnal, but somehow we got lucky to see a family of three running along the road at dusk. Wow! Biologically speaking, bat-eared foxes are no related to foxes at all, not are they wolves or dogs – it’s more of a prehistoric animal that is the missing link between the other species. When it comes to diet, bat-eared foxes are truly specialized – they are the only known insectivorous canids, i.e. they eat only insects. They consume termites, beetles, ants, crickets, grasshoppers, scorpions (in fact, the underground harvester termites constitute around 80% of their diet). The large ears are actually an adaptation to be able to hear underground insect movements, the ears are 10-15cm long! Their jaw is highly specialized for insect-eating as well – bat-eared foxes have 50 teeth (more then most other mammals), the teeth are very sharp and pointy to crush the insect shells, and the animals can chew at the speed of 5 chews per second! Bat-eared foxes don’t drink any water, instead getting all the water from their insect diet. And last but not least, it’s the male that takes care of the pups!