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The sensory ecology of prey detection in the bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis)

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In the absence of direct sunlight, nocturnal animals face sensory challenges different to those affecting their diurnal counterparts whilst foraging. Anecdotal observations have led to the general prediction that the auditory sensory mode is the most prominent for the bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis), a nocturnal, insectivorous canid. The present study aimed to clarify the relative importance of different sensory modes to foraging bat-eared foxes by conducting sensory trials with individuals belonging to a habituated population in the Kuruman River Reserve in South Africa. Foxes were tested in repeated trials controlling for particular sensory stimuli using live or pre-killed prey. Auditory cues proved significant (p⩽0.01) predictors of fox foraging success with olfactory and visual cues indicated as being of secondary importance. This study thus provides empirical confirmation for anecdotal reports that the bat-eared fox is predominantly reliant on auditory cues to determine hunting success.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of the Free State, Qwaqwa campus, Phuthaditjhaba 9866, South Africa

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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