Blanford's fox

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Blanford's fox[1]
Blandford's fox 1.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Vulpes
V. cana
Binomial name
Vulpes cana
(Blanford, 1877)
Vulpes cana (distribution).svg
Range of Blanford's fox
  • Vulpes nigricans Shitkow, 1907[3]

Blanford's fox (Vulpes cana) is a small fox native to the Middle East and Central Asia.


Blanford's fox is named after the English naturalist William Thomas Blanford, who described it in 1877. It is also known as the Afghan fox, royal fox, dog fox, hoary fox, steppe fox, black fox, king fox (Persian: شاه‌روباه‎, romanizedshāhrūbāh), cliff fox or Baluchistan fox.[4]

The specific name, cana, is Latin for "hoary" (so the scientific name means "hoary fox", corresponding to one of the vernacular names of the species).[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Blanford's fox inhabits semiarid regions, steppes, and mountains of Afghanistan, Egypt (Sinai), Turkestan,[6] northeast Iran, southwest Pakistan, the West Bank, and Israel.[7] It may also live throughout Arabia (particularly Oman, Yemen, and Jordan), as one was trapped in Dhofari region of Oman in 1984. Recent camera trapping surveys have confirmed the presence of the species in several places in the mountains of South Sinai, Egypt,[8] the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah[9] and Jebel Hafeet[10][11] in the UAE, and in Saudi Arabia.[12]

Blanford's fox possesses hairless footpads and cat-like, curved, sharp claws described by some authors as semiretractile.[13][14]

This fox has an ability to climb rocks and make jumps described as "astonishing", jumping to ledges 3 m (9.8 ft) above them with ease, and as part of their regular movements and climbing vertical, crumbling cliffs by a series of jumps up vertical sections.[15] The foxes use their sharp, curved claws and naked footpads for traction on narrow ledges and their long, bushy tails as a counterbalance.[15]


Fur skin

Like all desert foxes, the Blanford's fox has large ears which enables it to dissipate heat.[citation needed] However, unlike other desert foxes, it does not have pads covered with hair,[16] which would otherwise protect its paws from hot sand. Its tail is almost equal in length to its body. Its coat is light tan, with white underparts and a black tip on the tail. Among all extant canids, only the fennec fox is smaller than Blanford's.[17]

  • Shoulder height: 30 cm (12 in)[citation needed]
  • Head and body length: 43 cm (17 in)[17]
  • Tail length: 30 cm (12 in)[17]
  • Weight: 0.9–1.5 kg (2–3.3 lb)[17]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]


Omnivorous, and more frugivorous than other foxes. It prefers seedless grapes, ripe melons and Russian chives when consuming domestic crops. In addition, it eats insects.[citation needed] The Biblical foxes in the vineyard mentioned in the Song of Songs 2:15, described as "little foxex who roun the vineyards" are most probably the frugivorous Blanford's foxes.


  • Time of mating: January–February.[6]
  • Gestation period: 50–55 days.[4]
  • Litter size: 2–4 kits.[4]
  • Lactation: 6–8 weeks days.[4]
  • Age at sexual maturity: 8–12 months.[4]
  • Longevity: Generally 4–5 years,[4] but reported to live up to 10 years.[citation needed]


While the IUCN has downgraded Blanford's fox to "least concern" as more has been learned about the breadth of its distribution across the Middle East, very little is known about this species and its vulnerabilities to the diseases of domesticated dogs that have so badly affected other canids. Currently, little competition exists with humans for habitat, and the fox is a protected species in Israel and protected from hunting in Oman and Yemen. Some fur hunting occurs in Afghanistan, and occasionally they may take poison intended for hyenas and other species.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Hoffmann, M. & Sillero-Zubiri, C. (2015). "Vulpes cana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T23050A48075169.
  3. ^ Don E. Wilson; DeeAnn M. Reeder (16 November 2005). Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. 1. Smithsonian. p. 583. ISBN 978-1-56098-217-3.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Blanford's fox". Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife. 29 August 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  5. ^ "canus - Wiktionary".
  6. ^ a b "Blanford's fox Distribution". Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife. 13 May 2004. Archived from the original on 16 September 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  7. ^ GBIF sighting records Archived 5 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ El-Alqamy, H.; Wacher, T. J.; Hamada, A.; Rashad, S. (2003), Camera Traps; A Non-invasive Sampling Technique to Redefine the Large Mammals Fauna of South Sinai, Cat Specialist Group – IUCN Full Book-2003
  9. ^ Llewellyn-Smith, R.E. (2000), A short note on Blanford's fox Vulpes cana in the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah, Tribulus 10.1:23–24
  10. ^ Duncan, Gillian (27 March 2019). "Rare fox spotted in Al Ain for first time in almost 20 years". The National. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Rare creature caught on camera in UAE after 17 years". Khaleej Times. 30 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  12. ^ Cunningham & Wronski (2009). "Blanford's fox confirmed in the At-Tubaiq Protected Area (norther Saudi Arabia) and the Ibex Reserve (central Saudi Arabia)" (PDF). Canid News. IUCN/SSC Specialist Group (12.4). ISSN 1478-2677.
  13. ^ Sillero-Zubiri, Claudio; Hoffman, Michael; and MacDonald David W. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals, and Dogs: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN; 2004. p206
  14. ^ Geffen, E., Hefner, R., Macdonald, D.W. and Ucko, M. 1992d. Morphological adaptations and seasonal weight changes in the Blanford’s fox, Vulpes cana. Journal of Arid Environments 23:287–292.
  15. ^ a b IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals, and Dogs – 2004 Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan Archived 30 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Cambridge: IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, 2004. p. 197.
  16. ^ David W. Macdonald; Claudio Sillero-Zubiri (24 June 2004). The Biology and Conservation of Wild Canids. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-152335-9.
  17. ^ a b c d Burnie, D.; Wilson, D. E., eds. (2005), Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife, DK Adult, ISBN 0-7894-7764-5

Further reading[edit]

  • Abu Baker, M. A. et al., (2004). On the Current Status and Distribution of Blanford's fox, Vulpes cana Blanford, 1877, in Jordan (Mammalia: Carnivora: Canidae). Turk. J. Zool., 28: 1–6.
  • Geffen, E., R. Hefner, D. W. Macdonald & Ucko M. (1992). Habitat selection and home range in the Blanford's fox, Vulpes cana: compatibility with the Resource Dispersion Hypothesis. Oecologia 91: 75–81.
  • Geffen, E. (1994). Blanford's fox, Vulpes cana. Mammalian Species, 462:1–4.
  • Stuart, C.T. & Stuart, T. (1995). Canids in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula. Canid News 3:30–32.

External links[edit]