Foxes Around the World

Besides the four (or five) North American species of fox already mentioned, sixteen other species of fox exist worldwide. There is still debate over the taxonomic classification of many foxes. The names used here are from J.W. Sheldon´s ´Wild Dogs: The Natural History of the Nondomestic Canidae´, as quoted by Rebecca Grambo in ´The Nature of Foxes´.

The best known of the remaining vulpine foxes seems to be the fennec fox, Fennecus zerda (there is some discussion about reclassifying it into the genus Vulpes). The fennec´s range stretches from the Sahara Desert in North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula.
Fennec Fox
The diminutive fennec, Fennecus zerda, is the smallest fox in the world.
The smallest of all the foxes, fennecs stand 20cm at the shoulder, their mass rarely exceeding 1.5kg. Being a desert species, convergent evolution has made it similar to the kit fox in several ways. Its thick coat serves to insulate it from the desert sun, and its light sandy colour reflects excessive heat. It also share´s the kit fox´s heavily furred feet for protection from the hot desert sand. The fennec´s ears are even larger than those of the kit´s, sometimes measuring up to 15cm in length. Like other desert foxes, the fennec is primarily nocturnal. Urine is extremely concentrated to prevent water loss, and the animal can obtain all the moisture it needs from the food it eats. Diet is composed primarily of insects, but also rodents, lizards, plants, and the occasional bird. Fennecs have been kept as pets in Arab nations, and are probably the only fox species marginally suitable as such. Life span is ten to twelve years. The Blanford´s fox, Vulpes cana, is a close relative to the fennec that has evolved to live in the rockier terrain of Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, and Pakistan.

The remaining six vulpine species could also loosely be referred to as being desert foxes. These include the Bengal fox (Vulpes bengalensis) of India, the cape fox (Vulpes chama) of South Africa, the corsac fox (Vulpes corsacI) of Asia, the Tibetan sand fox (Vulpes ferrilata) of Tibet and Nepal, the pale fox (Vulpes pallida) of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa, and the Ruppell´s fox (Vulpes ruppelli) occupying much of the same range as the fennec.

Of the remaining non-vulpine species, the bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) of southern and eastern Africa is the only one not native to South America. Its claim to fame is its huge, bat-like ears which help it track down its insect prey. It also has the greatest number of teeth of any canid. Up to 80% of its diet consists of insects, which may explain why, along with the Blanford´s fox, it is one of the only species not to exhibit caching behaviour.

Finally, there are the South American foxes, which generally prove to be more dog-like than their other relatives. The largest genera is Pseudalopex and includes the culpeo or Andean wolf ( Pseudalopex culpaeus), the chilla or Argentine grey fox (Pseudalopex griseus), the pampas grey fox (Pseudalopex gymnocercus), the sechuran or Peruvian desert fox (Pseudalopex sechurae), and the hoary fox (Pseudalopex vetulus). The remaining species are the small-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis) and the crab-eating fox (Cerocyon thous). According to some sources, these two species are sometimes included into a single genus, Dusicyon.

Want to say "fox" in a different language? Foxes can be found just about everywhere and everyone seems to have a different word for them! Here´s a list compiled from various sources around the ´net, most notably the Oz Foxes Foxweb and Mike Micucci´s fox page, and also from several folks who were kind enough to write me with additions:

Abenaki Tribe WokwsesGermanFuchs/ Fähe
Albanian Dhelpr Ancient GreekAlōpēx
Arabic Shu'AlHebrewShual
Assiniboin Tribe Toka no (grey fox)HindiMemri
Bahasa IndonesiaRubahHungarianRoacuteka
(another reader submitted rka)
Bengali SheyalIrish GaelicMauda Rua
Bulgarian Lisica ItalianVolpe
Breton LouarnJapaneseKitsune
Catalan Guilla / Guineu
Cherokee Tribe I na li (black fox)LatinVulpes
Chinese HuLatvianLapsa
Choctaw Tribe Chu laMeneomi TribeWa ko
Creek Tribe Tso laNez PerceTi li pe
Croatian LisicaPawne TribeKiwaku (white fox)
Czech Lishka
a.k.a. Liska
Dakota Tribe Toka la lutaPortugueseRaposa
Danish rv RomanianVulpe
Dutch VosRussianLisita
(Males: Lis / Females:Lisa)
English Fox / VixenSerbianLisita
Estonian rebaneShawneeWaakoce'thi
French RenardSwedishRäv
ThaiJing Johg
sometimes "Hma Jing Johg" (Hma is for DOG)
Farsi RubahTurkishTilki
Gaelic SionnachWelsh(fox/vixen)

Your language isn´t here, or you know of another that isn´t? E-mail me and let me know!

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