Blanford’s Fox, Vulpes cana

Blanford’s fox (Vulpes cana) is native to areas of the Middle East. Its range includes Egypt, Afghanistan, Turkestan, the West Bank, Israel, northeast Iran, and southwest Pakistan. It has many other common names including the royal fox, dog fox, steppe fox, black fox, and king fox.

Blanford’s fox can reach and average body length of seventeen inches, and weigh as much as 6.5 pounds. The fluffy tail is approximately twelve inches in length and bears a black tip. The fur is tan in color, with a white underbelly. Unlike most desert foxes, Blanford’s fox does not have fur on the paw pads that help reduce the heat of the scorching sand it walks on, but it does have large ears, which aid in keeping body temperature normal.

Blanford’s fox has been noted to have a unique ability when maneuvering through rocky terrain within its range. It can be seen jumping as high as 9.8 feet to latch onto ledges. This method of vertical climbing is aided by their sharp claws and naked paw pads, which allow the fox a better grip, as well as by the tail, which aids in balance.

Mating season for Blanford’s fox occurs between the months of January and February, resulting in a pregnancy that can last up to 55 days. Each litter can contain up to four kits, or baby foxes, and the mother will nurse these kits for six to eight weeks. The typical lifespan of this fox is between four and five years, although individuals living to be ten years have been reported. The main diet of Blanford’s fox consists of seedless grapes, insects, Russian chives, and ripe melons.

Little is known about Blanford’s fox and how it may react to its Middle Eastern environment and common canid diseases, but despite this, it appears on the IUCN Red List as of “Least Concern”. Threats include some fur hunting, and the ingestion of poison meant for hyenas. Currently, Blanford’s fox is protected in Yemen and Oman, and there is little threat from human actions like completion for habitat.

Image Caption: Blanford’s Fox (Vulpes cana) photographed in southern Israel. Credit: Eyal Bartov/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)