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Tibetan (Sand) Fox - Vulpes ferrilata
Tibetan (Sand) Fox - Vulpes ferrilata

[Image: Tibetan_Fox.jpg]

Range and Habitat 
[Image: Tibetan_fox_23061_v1224017071.png]

The Tibetan fox ranges in Tibet, the Sutlej Valley in northwest India, and the Mustang district in northern Nepal. They occur in the highlands regions of their range.

Physical Appearance 
They are small foxes, with an elongated muzzle. They are rusty yellow in color, with grey on the sides of the body, and white on the face and underbody. They have acute hearing. Their teeth are well-developed, especially the canines, which are longer than in most other foxes. They have dense fur to protect them from high winds. 

[Image: M_TIFO_Tibetan_fox.JPG]

Diet and Social Behavior 
The Tibetan fox eats mostly rodents. They live in burrows in rocks on the plateaus. The Tibetan fox lives in pairs which hunt together. Mating season is in February, and after a gestation period of 50-60 days, 2-5 kits are born in a den. There is little information on this fox species.


These foxes tend to avoid areas where humans live. They are trapped for their fur in Tibet, where hats are made from their pelts.

[Image: tibetan_sand_fox_1.jpg]
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
[-] The following 1 user Likes Taipan's post:
  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
Just some additional material - 

Prefered Habitat
Tibetan foxes have been reported to inhabit barren slopes and streambeds. They appear to prefer rocky or brushy areas at high elevation. They are found on the Tibetan Steppe at a maximum altitude of 5.300 m. These animals live in excavated dens or burrows under rocks or in crevices of boulder piles.

Physical Description
Mass - 3 to 4 kg; avg. 3.50 kg (6.6 to 8.8 lbs; avg. 7.7 lbs)
Length - 975 to 1175 mm; avg. 1075 mm (38.39 to 46.26 in; avg. 42.32 in)
From nose to tail, The head and body length of Vulpes ferrilata measures from 575 to 700 mm. The tail adds an additional 400 to 475 mm to the total length. These animals weigh between 3 and 4 kg. There is no information available on sexual differences in size. The muzzle is elongated relative to most fox species. The teeth are well developed with extraordinarily long canines and narrow maxilla. 

Some researchers assume a lifespan of 8-10 years under ideal circumstances. Most foxes are lost to natural causes or human trackers before their fifth year. (Schaller, May 2000)

Mated pairs remain together for life. When one of the pair dies, it is unknown if the other seeks another mate. Kits stay with the parents until they are 8 to 10 months old. At that age they leave the den to find mates and home ranges of their own. The foxes are not overly territorial, and many pairs of the animals have been found living in close quarters and sharing hunting grounds. (Postanowicz, 1997; Schaller, May 2000)

Food Habits
Foxes hunt in pairs (one male, one female) and will share whatever food is caught. They eat mostly rodents, hares, rabbits, and small ground birds. However, anything that can be caught will be eaten. The Black lipped pika, also sharing the same range and habitat, seems to be a preferred prey item. (Schaller, May 2000)

Video of Tibetan Fox Hunting Pika!-

[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
 A new carnivore species for India
Friday 28 April 2006

The Tibetan fox (Vulpes ferrilata Hodgson), previously not recorded from India, has been observed in the Changthang region of the Indian Trans-Himalaya. It is a small carnivore of the family Canidae. This finding, published in the Journal of Bombay Natural History Society, was made by Tsewang Namgail, Sumanta Bagchi, Yash Veer Bhatnagar from the Nature Conservation Foundation and Rinchen Wangchuk from the Snow Leopard Conservancy.The fox was spotted by members of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Mysore, during field surveys in eastern Ladakh over the last two years. “We identified the animal from its morphological features and after talking to locals. The animal was spotted at Hanle near the astronomical observatory,” Tsewang Namgil, one of the NCF researchers who saw the animal, told Deccan Herald. 

The animal is a small carnivore that weighs 3-4.5 kg, belongs to the Canidae family and is generally found in China. The Tibetan sand foxes have a distinct morphology, which helped the NCF team identify the specimen. The dorsal part of the animal and its flanks are sandy to pale red, while the neck, thighs and rump are grey. The ventral fur is white to light grey and the tail is bushy with a white tip. 

Mr Namgil with two NCF colleagues, Sumanta Bagchi and Yash Veer Bhatnagar, and Rinchen Wangchuk from the Snow Leopard Conservancy have reported the spotting in the latest issue of The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. The animal was spotted by chance as the NCF team was looking for Tibetan gazelles, another mountain animal on the verge of extinction. “Since the area is close to Sino-Indian border, it is a restricted zone and researchers could not spot the fox earlier. Even for domestic researchers, special permissions were required,” said Mr Namgil, who visited the restricted zone twice in the summer of 2004 and winter of 2005. 

The Tibetan fox has long been known to the local people of Changthang as “Sili”. Its occurrence remained unreported, perhaps because large tracts of remote eastern Ladakh bordering China remain out of bounds for many surveyors and also because those who did see the animal mistook it for the red fox, found in great numbers in Ladakh. 

The NCF work was funded by the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation in the UK, the International Snow Leopard Trust and the Wildlife Conservation Society, USA.
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
Food habits of the Tibetan fox ( Vulpes ferrilata) in the Kunlun Mountains, Qinghai Province, China.

We analyzed 93 scats that included pika, rodent, large mammal, bird, reptile, insect, vegetation, and unidentified animal remains (Table 1). Pika remains were found in 84% of scats, representing the most frequently occurring food item. Rodents, including Himalayan marmots, occurred in 26% of scats (Table 1). All other prey items were found in only a few scats (Table 1).

[Image: nXfkpTH.png]

Our results confirm previous suggestions that Tibetan
foxes prey principally on plateau pikas, and secondarily
on various rodents (Schaller and Ginsberg 2004, Clark
et al. 2008). Remains of wild ungulates found in fox
feces probably represent scavenging on carrion (Schaller
and Ginsberg 2004); we believe it unlikely that Tibetan
foxes, at only 4–5.5 kg (Harris et al. 2008) are capable of
killing adult ungulates (although newly-born ungulates
may be vulnerable to fox predation for a few days).
Tibetan foxes are probably capable of killing young
domestic sheep, but in informal interviews, pastoralists
never reported that foxes were a depredation concern,
even during lambing season. Marmot remains were
detected in fox scats collected in March, april and
September. Himalayan marmots in our study area were
rarely above ground before May or after August; thus,
we speculate that, in addition to direct predation, foxes
may have scavenged the carcasses of marmots killed at
other times of year, and possibly by other predators.
In collecting feces in the field, we endeavored to
ensure that they came from Tibetan foxes rather than
other sympatric carnivores; however, we cannot rule out
the possibility of some mis-identification. Based on
unquantified visual observations, Tibetan foxes ap-
peared to be far more common in the study area than
any other mammalian carnivore. The most likely mis-
identification would have come from red foxes. However, we only made 3 red fox observations during the 2
years of field work, whereas we observed Tibetan foxes
on well over 100 occasions even without the aid of
telemetry. We captured only a single red fox in 4200
capture nights, compared with 7 captures of Tibetan
foxes. This, coupled with our field procedures, suggested
that we erroneously included very few red fox feces
within our sample.
An additional shortcoming of basing diet estimates on
raw frequency of occurrence in feces is that analysis of
different size prey species may result in overestimating
the proportion of smaller animals because of their
higher surface: volume ratios (Floyd et al. 1978;
Geraldine 1978; Corbett 1989). Our research may
therefore have overestimated the importance of plateau
pikas and smaller rodents relative to larger-bodied prey.
Regression equations, such have been developed for
other carnivores, would be useful to assess this short coming. Unfortunately, we are unaware of any Tibetan foxes in captivity that could be used for such a
controlled experiment. Notwithstanding these uncer-
tainties, our results confirm the central role of plateau
pikas in the life-history of Tibetan foxes. 
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
Associations with brown bears.

Brown bears living on the Tibetan plateau are also reported to eat primarily plateau pikas (Smith and Foggin 1999; Xu et al. 2006; Harris 2007), but are rarely observed by researchers. Although we have observed spoor, we have yet to observe brown bears directly at either Dulan or Shiqu sites. However, surveys the first author has directed since 1991 in a valley approximately 400km west of the Dulan site, 
called Yeniugou (“Wild Yak Valley”) have yielded multiple observations of brown bears hunting pikas. Although we have not quantified the success with which bears unearth and eat pikas, we have observed that pikas often escape into nearby burrows and that bears often dig for 15-30 minutes before successfully capturing a pika. In September 2002, we first documented a Tibetan fox associating with a brown bear that was digging pika, apparently in an attempt to prey upon pikas that fled from the bear’s excavations, but were unable to draw any conclusions about how common this behaviour was.
However, in May 2007 while assisting a TV crew filming bears for a nature documentary in Yeniugou, we made eight behavioural observations of brown bears excavating for pikas. In all but one of these, we observed at least one Tibetan fox in close proximity to the bear (in two cases, two foxes were involved). 
In all seven cases foxes would vary their distance from the bear depending on the latter’s hunting behaviour, closing to within approximately two metres when the bear placed its head in a burrow or was focused on its excavation, but often moving to greater than 30m distant when the bear walked within or 
among pika coteries. In all cases foxes were observed following the focal bear for at least 300m as it moved among the pika burrows. Bears often looked at the foxes in their vicinity, but we did not observe any overt aggression or direct interaction between the two species.

[Image: A-Tibetan-fox-indicated-by-arrow-sitting...-pikas.png]

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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu

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