Sechuran fox

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Sechuran fox[1]
Sechuran fox.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Lycalopex
Species: L. sechurae
Binomial name
Lycalopex sechurae
Thomas, 1900
Sechuran Fox area.png
Sechuran fox range
Synonyms

Pseudalopex sechurae
Dusicyon sechurae

The Sechuran fox (Lycalopex sechurae), also called the Peruvian desert fox or the Sechuran zorro, is a South American species of canid closely related to other South American "false" foxes or zorro, of which it is the smallest. It is found in the Sechura Desert in southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru.[1]

Description[edit]

The Sechuran fox is small for a canid, weighing 2.6 to 4.2 kilograms (5.7 to 9.3 lb), with a body length of 50 to 78 centimetres (20 to 31 in) and a tail of 27 to 34 centimetres (11 to 13 in). Its fur is gray agouti over most of the body, fading to white or cream coloured on the underparts. There are reddish brown markings on the backs of the ears, around the eyes, and on the legs. The muzzle is dark grey, and a grey band runs across the chest. Its tail is tipped with black. It has small teeth, adapted to feed on insects and dry plants, with fox-like canine teeth.[3]

The chromosome number is unknown, but probably 2n=74.[citation needed]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

First identified in the Sechura desert, the fox inhabits arid environments in southwestern Ecuador and western Peru, at elevations from sea level to at least 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), and possibly much higher. Within this region it has been reported from the western foothills of the Andes down to the coast, inhabiting deserts, dry forests, and beaches.[4] There are no recognised subspecies.

Several fossils of Sechuran foxes are known from the late Pleistocene of Ecuador and Peru, close to the modern range. Genetic analysis suggests that the closest living relative of the Sechuran fox is Darwin's fox, which is native to Chile.[4]

Behavior and diet[edit]

The Sechuran fox is nocturnal, and spends the daylight hours in a den dug into the ground. It is generally solitary, although occasionally seen travelling in pairs. Pups are born in October and November, although little else is known of its reproductive behavior.[5]

The fox is an opportunistic feeder, and its diet varies widely depending on the season and local habitat. It has been found to feed on seed pods, especially those of the shrub Prosopis juliflora and of caper bushes, as well as the fruit of Cordia and mito plants, and is capable of surviving on an entirely herbivorous diet when necessary. More commonly, however, it also eats insects, rodents, bird eggs, and carrion as a part of its diet.[6] It can probably survive for long periods of time without drinking, subsisting on the water in its food.[3]

Conservation[edit]

The Sechuran fox is threatened by habitat loss, which has been particularly extensive in Ecuador. They have been known to prey on local livestock, such as chickens, and are hunted both to reduce such attacks and so that their body parts can be used in local handicrafts, folk medicine, or magical rituals. The animal is considered at Low Risk in Ecuador, and hunting is not permitted in Peru without a licence. The species is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Asa, C., Cossíos, E.D. & Williams, R. (2008). Pseudalopex sechurae. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 March 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as near threatened
  3. ^ a b Asa, C. & Cossios, E.D. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources/Species Survival Commission Canid Specialist Group. pp. 69–72. 
  4. ^ a b c Cossios, E.D. (2010). "Lycalopex sechurae (Carnivora: Canidae)". Mammalian Species 42 (1): 1–6. doi:10.1644/848.1. 
  5. ^ Birdseye, C. (1956). "Observations on a domesticated Peruvian desert fox, Dusicyon". Journal of Mammalogy 37 (2): 284–287. JSTOR 1376706. 
  6. ^ Asa, C. & Wallace, M.P. (1990). "Diet and activity pattern of the Sechuran desert fox (Dusicyon sechurae)". Journal of Mammalogy 71 (1): 69–72. JSTOR 1381318.