Vulpes pallidapale fox

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Geographic Range

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

Habitat

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).

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
    3.30 to 7.93 lb

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).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    3 to 6
  • Average number of offspring
    4
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    51 to 53 days
  • Range weaning age
    42 to 56 days

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

The pale fox is predominately nocturnal. It has no known enemies. It is gregarious, and usually lives in a pack with three adults (one female and two males) (Walker, 1991).

Communication and Perception

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

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.

Conservation Status

Little is known about the species. IUCN -- "insufficiently known."

Other Comments

There are ten Vulpes species. Some species have a "foxy" odor arising mainly from a gland located on the dorsal surface of the tail, not far from the base (Walker, 1991).

The pale fox may be confused with the Fennec, and it is distingished from the Rueppell's fox by its black tipped tail (Dorst and Dandelot, 1970).

The skull of the pale fox and of the Rueppell's fox are similar except that the bullae of the pale fox are slightly larger and the nasals are appreciably longer (Rosevear, 1974).

Contributors

Cheryl Darden (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Rosevear, D.R. The Carnivores of West Africa. London: British Museum Natural History, 1974

Grzimeck's Encyclopedia of Mammals. volume 4. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990

Encyclopedia Britannica. fifteenth edition. volume 4. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica Incorporated, 1974

Walker's Mammals of the World. fifth edition. volume 1. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1991