Wildlife of China: Tibetan fox
By Li Yunqi
00:30

Few had heard about or seen the Tibetan fox until a few years back when photos of its blocky head and indifferent facial expressions became widespread memes on the Internet.

It is also very uncommon to see a Tibetan fox around residential communities as the fox rarely comes down from its elevated habitat on the vast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwest China.

General information about the Tibetan fox. /CGTN Graphics

General information about the Tibetan fox. /CGTN Graphics

The Tibetan fox lives on steppes at an altitude ranging from 3,500 and 5,300 meters. The China native can also be found on the Ladakh plateau in India. As one of the few animals that have perfectly adapted to the arid environment on the plateaus, the Tibetan fox has thick greyish yellow fur and features a small but compact body.

The big square face of the Tibetan fox has made it a popular meme on the Internet. /VCG Photo

The big square face of the Tibetan fox has made it a popular meme on the Internet. /VCG Photo

The greyish yellow fur helps the Tibetan fox blend in perfectly with its surroundings. /VCG Photo

The greyish yellow fur helps the Tibetan fox blend in perfectly with its surroundings. /VCG Photo

The Tibetan fox is small and compact. /VCG Photo

The Tibetan fox is small and compact. /VCG Photo

Even though the Tibetan fox has a big and square face, it is about the size of a miniature Schnauzer. As a small hunter on the plateau, the Tibetan fox loves pikas and other rodents and is skilled at hunting. However, it is not a troublemaker and even its clumsy neighbor, the Pallas's cat, dares to bully it and chase it around.

Read more: Wildlife of China: Pallas's cat

A Tibetan fox holds a prey in its mouth. /VCG Photo

A Tibetan fox holds a prey in its mouth. /VCG Photo

Even though the Tibetan fox is classified as "Least Concern" on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, its population has been on the decline in recent years. It is very rare to spot a wild Tibetan fox nowadays.

One of the biggest threats to the Tibetan fox is the straying Tibetan mastiffs, which are fierce and twice as big.

The Himalayan brown bear is a Tibetan fox's best hunting buddy. /VCG Photo

The Himalayan brown bear is a Tibetan fox's best hunting buddy. /VCG Photo

The Tibetan fox might be small, weak and slow, but it's a canny creature.

It often follows the Himalayan brown bear, and lurks around while the bear is on the hunt, waiting for the right time to snag any rodent that escapes it.

(Cover image designed by CGTN's Li Yueyun.)

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