Shoulder height 30–35cm. Weight 3–5kg.
This endearing small, silver-grey insectivore is unmistakable, with its huge ears and black eye-mask. It can be found throughout Botswana, anywhere that the harvester termite (Hodotermes mossambicus) occurs. The best areas are usually short grass plains that receive relatively low rainfall – Savuti Marsh is certainly a favourite habitat.
It is mostly nocturnal, but can sometimes be seen in pairs or small family groups during the cooler hours of the day, usually in dry open country. It digs well, and if seen foraging then it will often 'listen' to the ground (its ears operating like a radio-dish) whilst wandering around, before stopping to dig with its forepaws. As well as the termites, bat-eared foxes will eat lizards, gerbils, small birds, scorpions, beetle larvae and other insects.
Insect populations vary with the seasons and bat-eared foxes will move with them, but when conditions allow some areas will have very high densities of individuals.Similar species
The Cape fox
) is an infrequently seen dry country predator which occurs throughout central and western Botswana, but is absent from Chobe and the north side of the Okavango. The Cape fox lacks the prominent ears and mask of the bat-eared fox, and its coat is a uniform sandy-grey colour. I once had a Cape fox approach me cautiously, after dusk, whilst camping in Namibia's Namib-Naukluft Park, but have never seen another.