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Corsac Fox

General Description:  Corsac Foxes have the appearance of the genus Vulpes. A Corsac has a typically gray body with a whitish underside and silvery tones in the fur. Its fur also can occasionally have yellowish tones to it, especially in their summer coat. Their winter coat is thick and soft all over. It's tail is tipped black. The length of head and body is about 50 to 60 cm (20 to 24 in), the tail length about 22 to 35 cm (8.7 to 14 in). Its average weight is 2.7 kg (6.0 lb). For a fox, it has smaller teeth and a wide body. Rather than having a slender frame, it has wider shoulders than the Red Fox and is shorter, about the size of a domestic house cat. It's hooked claws help it climb trees in the wild.
Behavior and habits: Unlike the majority of foxes, this species prefers to live in social packs, much like dogs. They do not dig their own burrows, but instead usually take over other dens already established. They also have a central spot in the wild for waste, so in a home they are much easier to potty-train than most foxes. However, they do tend to mark anything they wish to be theirs, much like a Red Fox, and their urine smells strongly.
Not too much information is known on the behavior and structure of their social groups in the wild, as these species are elusive, but it is known they have a specific structure and live in social social groups of approximately 6 - 15 foxes in the wild, unlike most foxes with the exclusion of Fennecs. In
 captivity, it has been reported they do not like to be outside, as one of their primary threats are birds. This could be a contributing factor as to why they seem to not enjoy leash walks. 

Breeding: They typically have 2-6 kits per litter in the spring, and even cases of up to 11 young.The average lifespan of the Corsac is about 12 years. They reach sexual maturity from 9-10 months of age and reproduce the second year of life. They do not breed well in captivity, but are easily habituated by humans. However, if they feel their kits are threatened, they will destroy them like any fox. 

As A Pet: In captivity they do well in pairs, however, they will bond with the owner if you gain their trust from baby up. They will generally be timid if acquired as an adult. They must also have something to climb on, such as a cat tree, or it will become frustrated and look for outlets to it's energy, since they climb trees and such in the wild.
They typically shed badly about once a year, around the springtime months, March - May. They will go through an extreme shedding process, losing huge patches of their fur at once. Their fur emits a smelly odor that goes away if bathed regularly.

Major Threats: One of the greatest threats to the Corsac Fox is being hunted for fur. In the late 19th century, up to 10,000 foxes were killed annually for pelt trade. Other threats include, but are not limited to, large birds, and mammals larger than them. Development in Kazakhstan in the mid-1850's caused a significant reduction of Corsac numbers in previously undisturbed habitats. In the 20th century several catastrophic population declines were recorded. During such crashes hunting on Corsac Foxes in the former Soviet Union was banned. For example, hunting of Corsac Foxes was stopped within the entire Kazakhstan territory from 1928 to 1938. Current population status, and the nature of major threats, is unknown in most regions. The western part of the range populations are recovering and their range expanding. In Kalmikiya large desert areas are changing into grass steppes, less suitable for Corsac foxes. In Middle Asia and Kazakhstan a dramatic decrease of livestock during the last decade influenced many ecosystems and wildlife populations. However, the exact influence of this process on Corsac populations remains unknown.

Corsac Fox pelts have been intensively traded. In general, over much of Russia during the 19th century, as many as 40,000-50,000 pelts were traded in some years. For the time being, Corsac pelts are not as highly appreciated as Red Fox pelts, and Corsac Foxes are usually trapped only incidentally (info from IUCN Red List).

Conservative Actions:  They are listed as least concern by the IUCN Red List.Not listed on CITES Appendices. Hunting of Corsac Foxes is regulated by special national legislation, in which the species is considered a fur-bearer species (Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia). Trapping/hunting is allowed only from November through March in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Certain methods of hunting are prohibited, such as digging or smoking animals out of dens, den flooding, and poisoning. 

Corsac Foxes are protected in strict nature reserves (the highest protection status for the territory) and in national parks in China, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia. 

No special conservation programs have been carried out. Outside of protected areas, the Corsac has the status of game species.

All hunting and trading of Corsac Foxes is illegal in Afghanistan having been placed in 2009 on the country's Protected Species List. 

Corsac Foxes breed well in captivity if given ample room with a very large enclosure similar to the steppes and rocky areas they would inhabit in the wild. In Moscow Zoo, during the 1960's, one pair of Corsac Foxes produced six litters during the time that they remained together. Corsac Foxes can become easily habituated to humans. 

Gaps in Knowledge: There are several aspects of this species' biology that require investigation, including social organization and behavior, population structure, current distribution and population status in different regions, current levels of trapping/hunting impact, and other threats to the species (info from IUCN Red List).

Distribution and Range: Also known as the Steppe Fox, the Corsac is native to the steppes of Asia, specifically the northern hemisphere of Russia and the bordering countries. Refer to the Corsac range chart above. Corsacs prefer dens in the dry regions, and can even burrow underground or take over previous dens from other animals. 

Sources Accessed and modified, 3/23/2011: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corsac_fox