The steppe fox or sand fox is a special animal compared to other foxes. Where most foxes are solitary, the steppe fox is known to form packs. He has keen eyesight, hearing, and a sense of smell. The steppe fox has no fixed habitat and therefore does not need to protect its territory.
The steppe fox barks during the hunt. His main disadvantage is that he cannot run and therefore he can be easily hunted. Its natural enemies include the wolf and the eagle owl. In addition, he suffers from hunting for his fur by humans. Fossil finds have shown that this fox already existed in Switzerland a few million years ago.
- Kingdom: Animalia;
- stem Chordata;
- Class: Mammalia;
- Order: Carnivora;
- Familie: Canidae;
- Gender: vulpes;
- Species: Vulpus corsac.
The steppe fox or sand fox should not be confused with the Tibetan sand fox and Rüppell’s fox, which are also called sand foxes. The steppe fox is most closely related to the Tibetan sand fox. The steppe fox is not an endangered species. The size of the population can fluctuate quite a bit. The scientific name of the species is Lupus corsac.
The Steppe Fox Can Be Divided Into Three Different Categories.
The categories are:
- Vulpes corsac which occurs in the northern part of Kazakhstan and southern Siberia;
- Vulpus corsac Kalmykorum which occurs in northern Uzbekistan and the Caucasus;
- Vulpus corsac turkmenicus is found in southern Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China, and Mongolia.
The steppe fox is neither large nor small. He is about 60 centimeters long with a tail of about 30 centimeters. When they are adults they can weigh up to 3 kilos. The steppe fox has blond, also yellowish fur. White patches can be recognized in the coat, especially at the muzzle and more particularly at the chin and throat. The coat thickens in winter and then feels silky soft. The color of the coat is grayer in winter and there is a dark stripe running down the back.
Teeth And Senses
The steppe fox has small teeth for a fox and sharp eyesight. His hearing and sense of smell are also excellent. He has a broad skull. Its scent glands are located above the tail on the legs and cheeks.
Another peculiarity of the steppe fox or sand fox is that it barks during the hunt. It also barks to scare off rivals. He also makes a high-pitched sound as a social greeting or to raise the alarm.
The steppe fox, as expected, lives in steppes. More specifically, the steppes of Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, certain parts of Asia, northern regions of Mongolia, northern Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and China.
The steppe fox likes open plains and avoids places with dense vegetation. The steppe fox stays far away from people and also dislikes mountains, deserts, and snowfields with snow more than 15 centimeters deep.
The steppe fox has adapted perfectly to the dry climate and can therefore live with little water. He gets most of the moisture he needs from his food. It mainly eats small prey such as insects, small rodents, voles, hamsters, and squirrels. Occasionally it also eats somewhat larger prey such as hares.
The steppe fox hunts at night and is known to form packs. The sand fox knows no territory and therefore does not have to defend it. He lives like a nomad. It cannot hunt in the snow, so it will seek shelter from the cold weather in its den. It will also hide in its den if predators are around. The fox likes to use burrows made by other animals such as those of marmots or badgers.
The fox females are fertile in the months of January, February, and March. The steppe fox is monogamous in principle and will build a bond with his or her partner. The mother shares her den with other pregnant females. Once she has given birth, she moves her cubs to other burrows from time to time.
The gestation period is usually about 55 days. The litters generally consist of two to six young. Occasionally there are also nests of ten young. When the young are just born, their fur is very soft and light brown.
The Prehistoric Steppe Fox
The steppe fox already existed in the Pleistocene, which is the period from 2.58 million years to 11,700 years ago. Fossils of the steppe fox have been found and it appears that this fox species once even occurred in Switzerland. The direct prehistoric ancestor of the steppe fox is probably the Lupus praecorsac. This fox is now extinct.
Threats To The Steppe Fox
The steppe fox has a number of natural enemies such as wolves, eagles, buzzards, and eagle owls. In addition, humans also pose a threat to this fox due to poaching. The fox is not a runner and can be easily caught by hunters.