Tibetan foxes have been known to inhabit the Tibetan plateau of India, China, Sutlej valley of northwestern India and parts of Nepal, specifically the Mustang district. (Postanowicz, 1997)
Tibetan sand foxes have been reported to inhabit barren slopes and streambeds. They appear to prefer rocky or brushy areas at high elevation. They are found on the Tibetan Steppe at a maximum altitude of 5.300 m. These animals live in excavated dens or burrows under rocks or in crevices of boulder piles. (IUCN Canid Specialist Group, 2004; Nowak, 1991)
Tibetan sand foxes range in color from black, to brown and rusty-colored, to yellowish on neck and back. They possess a tawny band on the dorsal region and white on the tail, muzzle and belly. The fur is thick, with a dense undercoat. (IUCN Canid Specialist Group, 2004; Nowak, 1991)
From nose to tail, The head and body length of Vulpes ferrilata measures from 575 to 700 mm. The tail adds an additional 400 to 475 mm to the total length. These animals weigh between 3 and 4 kg. There is no information available on sexual differences in size. The muzzle is elongated relative to most fox species. The teeth are well developed with extraordinarily long canines and narrow maxilla. (IUCN Canid Specialist Group, 2004; Nowak, 1991)
Kits do not emerge from the den for some weeks after their birth, but quickly develop, and within 8-10 months are sexually mature. (Schaller, 2000)
V. ferrilata is apparently monogamous, with mated pairs staying together for life. (Schaller, May 2000)
Mating season falls around late February to early March, and pairs of foxes stay together and are life-long mates. They live, hunt and share the responsibility of raising the young together. The gestation period is thought to be 50 to 60 days. Kits are born in late April to early May. The litter size ranges from 2 - 5 kits. The kits do not emerge from the den for some weeks after birth, so the exact gestation period is unknown. (Schaller, May 2000)
All canid young are altricial. V. ferrilata young o not emerge from their natal dens until they are several weeks old. The exact timing of weaning has not been reported. Because the species is monogamous, both parents are involved in caring for the young. (Schaller, May 2000)
Some researchers assume a lifespan of 8-10 years under ideal circumstances. Most foxes are lost to natural causes or human trackers before their fifth year. (Schaller, May 2000)
Mated pairs remain together for life. When one of the pair dies, it is unknown if the other seeks another mate. Kits stay with the parents until they are 8 to 10 months old. At that age they leave the den to find mates and home ranges of their own. The foxes are not overly territorial, and many pairs of the animals have been found living in close quarters and sharing hunting grounds. (Postanowicz, 1997; Schaller, May 2000; Postanowicz, 1997; Schaller, May 2000)
The home range size for this species has not been reported.
Short yips are passed between animals to communicate, but since the pairs usually stay together, no long distance communication is known or thought necessary. Scent is used to define territory, but the foxes are not known to actively defend their area. (Nowak, 1991)
Foxes hunt in pairs (one male, one female) and will share whatever food is caught. They eat mostly rodents, hares, rabbits, and small ground birds. However, anything that can be caught will be eaten. The Black lipped pika, also sharing the same range and habitat, seems to be a preferred prey item. (Schaller, May 2000)
When threatened, Tibetan sand foxes retreat to their dens. (Nowak, 1991; Schaller, May 2000)
Tibetan sand foxes play a significant role in controlling the rodent and small animal population. They may also help to aerate the soil by digging their dens.
The only known predators of this species are humans, who commonly trap and kill V. ferrilata for their fur. There is a large industry in the higher areas of Tibet and Nepal for the fox’s fur, which is usually made into hats. The fur is prized for this, because of its great ability to protect its wearer from the wind and other elements. (IUCN Canid Specialist Group, 2004; Nowak, 1991; Postanowicz, 1997; Schaller, May 2000)
These animals apparently have no negative impact on humans.
V. ferrilata was formerly (1996) on the IUCN Redlist as a species of Lower Risk (least concern), but is currently unlisted.
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Melissa Borgwat (author), California State University, Sacramento, James Biardi (editor), California State University, Sacramento.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
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.
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.
an animal that mainly eats meat
Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
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.
union of egg and spermatozoan
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
IUCN Canid Specialist Group, 2004. "Tibetan Fox (Vulpes ferrilata)" (On-line). IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group. Accessed March 23, 2004 at http://www.canids.org/SPPACCTS/vferrila.htm.
Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World Fifth Edition, Volume II. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Postanowicz, R. 1997. "Tibetan Fox (Vulpes ferrilata)" (On-line). Lioncrusher's Domain. Accessed March 23, 2004 at http://www.Lioncrusher.com/animal.asp?animal=34.
Schaller, G. May 2000. WIldlife of the Tibetan Steppe. University of Chicago Press.