The Tibetan fox is widespread across the steppes and deserts of Nepal, India, Bhutan, China, and Sikkim. They live on the high Tibetan Plateau at elevations of up to 17,400 feet. They live far away from humans and have stable populations, so luckily they are classified as under least concern for extinction. Their only predators are humans and, when threatened, they are known to simply retreat to their dens.
Tibetan foxes are small, with a dense red or tan coat of fur with a white tail, grey undercoat, and black ears. They measure about four feet from nose to tip of the tail. Adults weigh between eight and 12 pounds. They have a narrower muzzle than other foxes.
The usual prey of Tibetan foxes are pikas, marmots, lizards, and hares. They only hunt small animals and have been observed to work with grizzly bears to catch pikas. The grizzlies dig out the pikas’ burrows and the foxes catch them as they flee. Tibetan foxes also scavenge large kills made by other predators, such as deer, antelope, sheep, and domestic animals.
Tibetan fox kits are born at the middle or end of spring in a burrow dug by both parents. A usual litter is about two to four kits. They stay with their parents for the first eight to 10 months of their lives before venturing off on their own, but they usually don’t venture far. Tibetan foxes are not territorial so kits feel no pressure to distance themselves from where they were born. Tibetan foxes seem to be monogamous, so the mate that the young foxes find when they leave their parents will be the one they’ll stay with for the rest of their life.
The possible lifespan for a Tibetan fox is up to 10 years, but most die closer to the time they are five. If a Tibetan fox outlives their mate, it is unknown whether it will seek out someone new or remain on its own. Mates live together and hunt together all year round and are rarely far from one another. For this reason, the vocalizations of Tibetan foxes don’t need to be loud. They talk to one another with short yips.
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