Rüppell’s Fox

Rüppell’s Fox or Rueppell”˜s Fox (Vulpes rueppellii), also known as the Sand Fox, is a species of fox found in North Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco to Afghanistan. It is named after German collector Eduard Rüppell.

This fox is 15.75 to 20.5 inches long and weighs approximately 3.75 pounds. It is a small canine, and is much smaller than the Red Fox. It is sandy in color with black patches on the muzzle. It has a long, white tipped and bushy tail. This species has fur on the pads of its feet, which may help distribute their weight and helps them move more efficiently on sand. Similar to other desert foxes, Rüppell’s Fox has quite large ears to cool it off.

Rüppell’s Fox has scent glands that it uses for many different reasons. It will use them to mark its territory and as a spray to ward off unwanted predators. The female uses her scent glands to mark the nesting den. These foxes also use the scent glands to greet each other. They can also bark, much like a dog.

Rüppell’s Fox is a solitary forager. It is omnivorous and will eat nearly anything. However, its diet mostly consists of insects, tubers and roots, small mammals, reptiles, eggs, and arachnids. Its only predators are the Steppe Eagle and the Eagle Owl. It was pushed into desert life due to competition with its larger cousin, the Red Fox. It is well known for being an extremely good survivor.

Rüppell’s Fox travels in small monogamous groups around the mating seasons, but after breeding it will form family groups of 3 to 15 individuals. One individual may occupy up to 70 square kilometers of territory. Males defend a larger territory than females on average. This species is nocturnal and gregarious. It changes dens often, and will abandon a den if danger persists. Most dens are under rocks or trees. The female has a gestation period of 51 – 53 days, after which she has 2 to 3 kits that are born blind. It is weaned at 6 to 8 weeks of age. It is also born underground to protect them from predators.

This fox has been treated like a pest for the past 100 years as it preys on many livestock animals in Arabia. These include chickens, lambs, and young goats. Rüppell’s Fox has no official conservation status as it is too hard to estimate the actual population . The IUCN lists this species as Data Deficient.

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