The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
PATAGONIAN FOX (Argentine Grey Fox) Lycalopex griseus (introduced)

PATAGONIAN FOX (Argentine Grey Fox) Lycalopex griseus (introduced)


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  • FOX-CUBS-FI-Gillian-Santink
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Introduced and breeding, not to be confused with the extinct native ‘warrah’. This fox is native of southern Argentina and Chile.

 A small fox 32-36 inches (81-91 cm) nose to tail, and 3-4.5 kg (I Strange). Brindled grey coat, paler underparts and a long bushy tail which has a black tip and a broken black line along its top side.  The head is rust coloured flecked with white and a distinctive black spot under the chin. Ears are large with ruddy topsides.

Falklands foxes, restricted to their island habitats have adapted to scavenging tidal zones for marine life and are known to lift stones to feed on small dogfish and other marine life. Inland they will eat diddle-dee berries in season and also insects. They will, however take lambs in season and small mammals and birdlife when the opportunity arises.  For shelter and breeding they rely on tussac grass, boxwood thickets and rocky crevices.
In the late 1920’s early 1930’s, John Hamilton, owner of Weddell, Beaver and other adjacent islands,  introduced foxes and other non- native animals to Weddell, Beaver, Stats, Spit and River Islands (all south-west West Falkland islands) in an attempt to diversify his farming economy by selling pelts to overseas markets. Foxes thrived and bred, particularly on Weddell and Beaver islands and proved detrimental to sheep farming and birdlife. It might have been worse, another ‘Hamilton,’ James Erik ‘Shag’ Hamilton the government naturalist and his assistant Arthur Bennet, in 1933 successfully prevented Jason Hansen from introducing these foxes to New Island and Carcass Island where Hansen wanted to use foxes to control rats and rabbits and to provide fur skins. They were also on Sedge Island but they were eradicated by the farmer.

Attempts to control foxes on Weddell and eradicate them from Beaver Island were made during the 1990s. They were eradicated from Tea Island in 2008.

Sources include: Falkland Islands State of the Environment Report 2008 Otley H, Munro G, Clausen A, Ingham B.The Dictionary of Falklands Biography- David Tatham, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of The Falkland Islands and South Georgia - Ian J Strange
Photographic credits: Dilys and Alan Waton, cubs Gillian Santink/
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