Friday, January 3, 2014

Bat-eared Foxes (Africa Series)

(continuing a hopefully interesting, non-bird series of animals…see below for a fuller explanation)

When we drove up to the Bat-eared Foxes’ den, the adults ran away.  That left the young ones alone, wondering what to do.  

One of the young kits was torn between going with his parents and hiding in the den. He hesitated as he made moves in both directions.

(Click on any picture to enlarge.)

One finally decided his chances were better with his parents and bounded away.  Now his brother faced the dilemma alone, but decided to stay.

He really didn’t have anything to fear from a truckload of camera-wielding tourists, but he didn’t know that. 

Sitting at the den’s door he watched us cautiously for this was still a run or hide problem for him.

The adults hadn’t really abandoned the kits.  They ran away to draw a threat, us, away from the den and onto themselves.

They lingered in plain sight, fifty feet away, making sure we could see them.  It was all an act they’ve probably played out dozens of times already and was likely perfected over millions of years before that.
Bat-eared Foxes are omnivores with a taste for termites. When enormous ears are placed inches from the earth, they are able to hear insects gnawing and chewing underground.  Digging is all that’s required to procure a meal.

Bat-eared Foxes use their remarkable ability to run and dodge to avoid predators.  They are not fighters.  Jackals, hyenas and eagles are a constant threat, especially for the young.  Able to make a 90-degree turn without losing speed, the foxes present a challenging target to pursue.

With the immediate scare of us passing, another kit emerged from the den to accept us as just a non-threatening oddity.   They resumed a relaxed posture again…relaxed and now curious.


University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
San Diego Zoo Animals


(Africa Series)
I recently traveled to Africa, with the intent of finding new birds to photograph. I found over fifty 'new' bird species, but not just birds.

I went with my good friends Barbara and Don Gilmore.  Barb is a tour organizer and owns Many Hats Travel. She led eighteen women and four men through Sweetwater Tented Camp, Lake Nakuru National Park and the Maasai Mara in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The experience was enlightening, eye opening and exhausting all at the same time. There was little downtime, chiefly self-inflicted because you don’t want to miss anything.  Missing a game drive could mean not seeing an animal others saw.  As our African host, Atonio Marangabassa stated, "If you want a vacation, go to Hawaii…you’re here to see animals!"

But Feather Tailed Stories is not a travel blog…it’s about birds and I will keep it as such.  Nevertheless, there were many interesting animals stories in Africa and to NOT tell them would be unfortunate. My focus here is still on birds, but for this series I will include four-legged animals, too. I hope you agree with this major deviation, but I will start with birds.