Hoary fox

Not to be confused with Blanford's fox, or Afghan fox, also known as 'hoary fox'.
Hoary fox[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Lycalopex
Species: L. vetulus
Binomial name
Lycalopex vetulus
(Lund, 1842)
Hoary fox range

Pseudoalopex vetulus
Dusicyon vetulus

The hoary fox (Lycalopex vetulus), also called raposinha-do-campo (Portuguese for "meadow fox") or the hoary zorro, is a species of zorro or "false" fox endemic to Brazil. Unlike many other foxes, it feeds primarily on small invertebrates such as insects.


The hoary fox has a short muzzle, small teeth, a short coat, and slender limbs. The upper part of the body is grey, and the underside of the body is cream or fawn. The tail is black on the tip with a marked dark stripe along the upper surface, which in male animals, may extend all the way along the back to the nape of the neck. The ears and outside part of the legs are reddish or tawny, and the lower jaw is black. Some melanistic individuals have also been reported.[3][4]

It is small for a fox, weighing only 3 to 4 kilograms (6.6 to 8.8 lb), with a head and body length of 58 to 72 centimetres (23 to 28 in), and a tail 25 to 36 centimetres (9.8 to 14.2 in). Together with its slender form, the small size of the hoary fox makes it an agile and fast-running animal, while its relatively weak teeth adapt it to feeding on invertebrates, rather than larger prey.[4]

Behaviour and diet

Hoary foxes are nocturnal,[5] and largely solitary outside of the breeding season. It mainly eats insects, especially termites and dung beetles, but also may eat rodents, small birds, and fruit. Individuals have widely varying home ranges, depending on the local environment, but an average of 48 hectares (120 acres) has been reported from pastures in Mato Grosso.[4]


The hoary fox is native to south-central Brazil, although there are some recorded sightings from the north of the country, and Pleistocene fossils are known from Argentina. Although they may be found in more marginal habitats, they usually live in the cerrado, between 90 and 1,100 metres (300 and 3,610 ft) elevation, where there are open woodlands, bushlands, and savannahs that are smooth or scattered with trees.[4]

There are no recognised subspecies.


Females usually give birth to two to four pups in August to September, after a gestation period of around 50 days. The female prepares a den in which to give birth, sometimes using the burrows of other animals. Weaning occurs at around four months of age.[4]


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  1. Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. Dalponte, J. & Courtenay, O. (2008). "Pseudalopex vetulus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 February 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as of least concern
  3. "Lycalopex vetulus". University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Dalponte, J.C. (2009). "Lycalopex vetulus (Carnivora: Canidae)". Mammalian Species. 847: 1–7. doi:10.1644/847.1.
  5. Courtenay, O.; et al. (2006). "First observations on South America's largely insectivorous canid: the hoary fox (Pseudalopex vetulus)". Journal of Zoology. 268 (1): 45–54. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2005.00021.x.
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