Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The nocturnal pale fox is thought to live in small family groups consisting of an adult male, an adult female and their young (5). They dig extensive dens, descending two to three metres and extending up to 15 metres, with the inner chambers lined with dry vegetation. These burrows allow the foxes to escape the heat of the day until dusk when they surface to search for food. Pale foxes primarily feed on fruits, berries and vegetable matter, and they possess well-developed molars suited to this largely herbivorous diet (3). However, they also sometimes catch and eat small animals such as rodents, lizards and invertebrates (2). From their diet, pale foxes obtain sufficient moisture to enable them to survive for the long, dry, hot seasons of their desert habitat (2). Pale foxes are believed to give birth to litters of three to four pups, after a gestation period of only seven to eight weeks. The development of the young foxes is just as quick, with weaning of the pups taking place after six to eight weeks (3). A pale fox in captivity lived to the age of three, but it is thought that in the wild they live to at least twice this age (3).
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Description

The pale fox is one of the least known of all fox species, maybe in part due to its pale, sandy coat that blends in with its desert habitat, and its nocturnal behaviour. Its large ears look enormous against its small body and thin legs (2) (3), and it also has long whiskers and black rings surrounding the eyes (4). The long, bushy tail is reddish brown, tipped with black and a dark patch above the tail indicates the presence of a scent gland (2) (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

The Pale Fox is distributed in the semi-arid Sahel of Africa, bordering the Sahara to the north. The southern limit of its geographical range extends into northern Guinean savanna zones. It ranges from Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia through Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad to the Red Sea.
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Geographic Range

The pale fox is found from Senegal to Northern Sudan and Somalia (Grzimeck 1990).

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Range

Occupies the band of African Sahel, south of the Sahara, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. There are four subspecies recognised; V.p. pallida occurs in Sudan, V.p. edwardsi inhabits Mali and Senegal, V.p. harterti is found in northern Nigeria northwards to Niger and westwards to Burkina Faso, and V.p. oertzeni ranges from Libya, through Nigeria, northern Cameroon and Chad, south to Sudan (2) (3).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The pale fox has an elongated, low body, relatively short legs and a narrow muzzle. Its ears are long and rounded at the tip. Its tail is bushy and is at least half as long as its body, and often fully as long. The tip of its tail is black. The upperpart of its body is pale and sandy in color, and the underpart is buffy white. The pupil of its eye generally appears elliptical in strong light. The fox's eye is surrounded by a dark ring (Walker, 1991; Rosevear, 1974).

Range mass: 1.5 to 3.6 kg.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species typically inhabits very dry sandy and stony marginal sub-Saharan desert and semi-desert areas, but its range extends to some extent southwards into moister Guinean savanna areas. Therefore, it has a very extensive distribution within an unstable and fluctuating ecological band lying between true desert and the Guinean savannas. It may also occur near human habitation and cultivated fields where food is more readily available than in natural habitats (Rosevear 1974).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The pale fox digs extensive dens made of earth. The burrows are large, with tunnels extending 10-15 meters and opening into small chambers lined with dry vegetable material (Walker, 1991; Dorst and Dandelot, 1970).

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

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The pale fox inhabits sandy and stony deserts and semi-desert areas, venturing south toward the more moist savannahs (2) (3).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The pale fox feeds on rodents, small animals, small reptiles, birds, eggs, vegetable matter (wild melons), and insects (Dorst and Dandelot, 1970; Grzimeck, 1990; Walker, 1990).

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; eggs; insects

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
10.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 16 years (captivity) Observations: In the wild, these animals may live up to 10 years (Bernhard Grzimek 1990). One male specimen lived 16 years in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

No information is available on the mating system of this species.

There are 51-53 days in the gestation period of the pale fox. Three to six young are born per birth; each pup weighs 1.7-3.8 ounces, or 50-100 grams. The weaning period takes six to eight weeks. The pale fox's life span is not more than 10 years (Grzimeck, 1990).

Range number of offspring: 3 to 6.

Range gestation period: 51 to 53 days.

Range weaning age: 42 to 56 days.

Average birth mass: 75 g.

Average number of offspring: 4.

Parental Investment: altricial

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Wacher, T.

Reviewer/s
Hoffmann, M. & Murdoch, J.D.

Contributor/s

Justification
The Pale Fox is listed as Least Concern, since although there is no detailed information on its abundance, the species is relatively widespread in the ecological band laying between the true desert of the Sahara and the sub-Saharan savannas. There are no known major range-wide threats at present that may result in a population decline that would warrant listing in a threatened category.

History
  • 2004
    Data Deficient
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
  • 1994
    Insufficiently Known
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN 1990)
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Little is known about the species. IUCN -- "insufficiently known."

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: data deficient

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Status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Population

Population
The Pale Fox is widespread and present throughout its range. It is locally common, but in most parts it is seldom recorded.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
No major threats are known, although they may be persecuted locally since they are known to kill domestic fowl (Rosevear 1974). The species is a frequent victim of road kills on regularly used tracks between settlements in Sahel zone of Niger and Chad. Oil and gas drilling, and associated disturbance, might become a future localized threat.
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One of the least known canid species, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has determined that there is insufficient information to conclude the extent to which the pale fox may be threatened with extinction (1). Potential threats include any alterations to the unstable and fluctuating habitat band it occupies (2), and occasional persecution after killing domestic birds (3).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is not listed on any CITES Appendices. It is locally common in the newly created Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature and Cultural Reserve of east Niger and in Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve, Chad. It is likely to occur in several other protected areas throughout the species' range, but no reliable information is available at present. This is the least known of all the canids, and studies on its distribution, status and ecological requirements are needed.
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Conservation

It is thought likely that the pale fox occurs in some protected areas within its extensive range, but there is no conclusive information yet available. There are no known specific conservation measures in place for this species at present, and the greatest need is to determine the status, biology and ecological requirements of the mysterious pale fox through further studies (3).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

As a predator, the pale flox plays an important role in the balance of the ecological system and food chain.

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Wikipedia

Pale fox

The Pale fox is a species of fox found in the band of African Sahel from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east.[1][3] It is one of the least studied of all canine species, in part due to its remote habitat and its sandy coat that blends in well with the desert like terrain.[4]

The Pale fox is long-bodied with relatively short legs and a narrow muzzle. It is a relatively small canid with weight ranging from 4 - 6 pounds. The ears are large compared to other foxes but is typical of a desert inhabiting canid. The fur is generally a pale sandy color that turns white towards the belly. Its bushy tail is reddish brown and black at the tip.[4]

The Pale fox is typically inhabits stony deserts and semi-deserts although it occasionally ventures south into the savanna. It lives in small family groups with parents and their young. During the day they rest in dug burrows that can extend up to 15 meters long and descend up to 2 meters to the ground, at dusk they venture out and forage for food, which includes plants and berries as well as rodents, reptiles and insects.[5] It has the ability to retain water from its food, and can go almost completely without drinking.[4]

There are five recognized subspecies of this fox:[1]

See Also[edit]

IUCN Red List data deficient species (Chordata)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Wacher, T. (2012). "Vulpes pallida". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.canids.org/species/Vulpes_pallida.htm
  4. ^ a b c "Arkive - Pale fox". 2006. 
  5. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/141.shtml
  • Walker's Mammals of the World, Fifth Edition,volume 1, Johns Hopkins University Press


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