At the mention of the name “korsak”, many will not immediately understand what kind of animal it is. But one has only to look at the photo of the corsac, it is immediately clear that it is very similar to the common fox, only it is a smaller copy of it. We will learn in more detail about its life activity by studying external characteristics, determining habitats, analyzing habits and customs, examining the characteristics of reproduction and the preferred diet.
Origin of the species and description
Korsak is also called the steppe fox, this predator belongs to the canine family and the genus of foxes. It is believed that the name of the animal is related to the Turkic word “karsak”, which is associated with someone undersized, short, short. The corsac is smaller than the scribe, and outwardly it is very similar to the red fox, only in smaller sizes.
Interesting fact: The length of the body of the steppe fox rarely exceeds half a meter, and its weight varies from three to six kilograms. It is worth noting that zoologists distinguish three subspecies of the corsac, which differ slightly not only in the places of their deployment, but also in the dimensions and colors of the coat.
If we compare the corsac with the red fox, then they are very similar in physique, in both foxes the body is elongated and squat, only the corsac let us down in size. It is inferior to the red cheat not only in size, but also in the length of the tail. In addition, the tail of an ordinary fox looks much richer and fluffier. The difference between the corsac and the red predator is the dark tip of its tail, and it differs from the Afghan fox by the presence of a white chin and lower lip.
Of course, his color, in comparison with the red-haired cunning beauty, is not so bright and expressive. But this coloring serves the predator faithfully, helping him to remain unnoticed in the open steppe expanses, which are often covered with grass that has dried up from the hot sun. In general, the corsac is commensurate with a fairly well-fed cat or a small dog, its height at the withers practically does not go beyond the thirty-centimeter limit. If we talk about the difference between the sexes, then in Korsaks it is practically absent. The male is slightly larger than the female, but this is almost invisible, and they are identical in color.
Appearance and features
Everything is clear about the size of the corsac, but in its color there are grayish-ocher and brownish shades, closer to the forehead area the color becomes darker. The muzzle of the steppe fox is short and pointed, the cone widens closer to the cheekbones. The pointed ears of the corsac are quite impressive and wide at the base, from above they have a brown-red or gray-ocher tone. There are quite thick yellowish hairs on the inside of the ears, and their edging is white.
The area around the eyes has a lighter coat, and the triangle formed by the corners of the eyes and the upper lip has a darker background. Yellowish-white fur is noticeable on the throat, in the neck and near the mouth.
An interesting fact: Korsak has very small teeth, which are identical in structure and number to all foxes, there are 42 of them. The fangs of the corsac are still stronger and more powerful than those of the red fox.
With the approach of cold weather, the corsac becomes more and more beautiful, its fur coat becomes silky, soft and thick, painted in grayish-yellow tones. A light brown tone with an admixture of gray appears on the ridge, because. guard hairs have silvery tips. If there are many such hairs, then the predator becomes silver-gray from above, but sometimes, on the contrary, there is more brown fur. The shoulder area adjusts to the tone of the back, and lighter shades are noticeable on the sides. Abdomen and chest white or with glimpses of some yellowness. The front legs of the corsac are yellowish in front, and rusty on the sides, the hind legs are more faded.
An interesting fact: The summer fur coat of a corsac is not at all similar to the winter coat, it is rough, sparse and short. Even the tail becomes sparse and plucked. No silveriness is observed, the whole attire acquires a dirty ocher uniformity. Against the background of a summer unsightly suit, the head becomes disproportionately large, and the whole body becomes lean, distinguished by thinness and long legs.
It should be added that in winter the tail of the steppe fox is very rich, noble and magnificent. Its length can be half the body or even more, it ranges from 25 to 35 cm. When the corsac is standing, its handsome tail falls right to the ground, touching it with its darker tip. The tail base is brown, and a grayish-brown or rich ocher color scheme is visible along the entire length.
Where does the corsac live?
Korsak took a fancy to Eurasia, capturing Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan. The steppe fox lives in some Russian regions, which includes Western Siberia. On the European territory, the settlement area occupies the Samara region, and in the south it is limited to the North Caucasus, from the north the range runs to Tatarstan. A small distribution area was noted in the spaces of southern Transbaikalia.
Outside the borders of our state, the Korsak lives:
- in Mongolia, bypassing its mountainous terrain and forests;
- in the north of Afghanistan;
- in Azerbaijan;
- in northeastern and northwestern China;
- in Ukraine;
- on the territory of northeastern Iran.
There is evidence that the Korsak settled widely in the interfluve of the Urals and the Volga. Recently, the steppe fox was also noticed in the Voronezh region. Korsak is considered a permanent inhabitant of the western part of Siberia and Transbaikalia.
For places of permanent deployment, the corsac chooses:
- hilly territory with low vegetation;
- arid steppe;
- desert and semi-desert areas;
- river valleys;
- sandy places of dry riverbeds.
The steppe fox eschews dense forest thickets, impassable shrubbery and plowed land. You can meet a corsac in the forest-steppe and foothills, but this is considered a rarity, it gets into such areas by chance and for a short time.
Now you know where the corsac fox lives. Let's see what the steppe fox eats.
What does the corsac fox eat?
Although the corsac fox did not come out in size, it is still a predator, therefore its varied menu consists of animal food.
The steppe fox snacks with pleasure:
- steppe pied;
- mice (and voles too);
- ground squirrels;
- various reptiles;
- small birds;
- bird eggs;
- all kinds of insects;
- hedgehogs (rarely).
The corsac goes hunting at dusk all alone, although sometimes it can be active during the day. First-class sense of smell, sharp eyesight and excellent hearing serve as his faithful assistants in hunting. He feels his potential prey from afar, trotting after it against the wind. Noticing the victim, the corsac quickly overtakes it, but, like a red fox relative, is not able to mouse. When things are very tight with food, the corsac does not disdain carrion, eats various garbage, but does not eat plant food.
An interesting fact: Korsak has an amazing ability, he can survive for a long time without water, which is why he is attracted to life in deserts, semi-deserts and arid steppes.
The steppe fox predator very cleverly catches small feathered game, because. moves swiftly and moves with lightning speed, he can even climb a tree without much difficulty. While searching for food, the corsac is able to cover several kilometers at once, but in winter, with extensive snow cover, this is very difficult to do, so many individuals die in the cold season.
Interesting fact: According to At the end of the harsh winter season, the number of corsacs is very thin. There is evidence that in some regions in one winter it decreases by tens and even a hundred times, which is very sad.
Features of character and lifestyle
Korsakov cannot be called loners, they live in families. Each family group has its own land holding, which can occupy from two to forty square kilometers, it happens that the area exceeds one hundred square kilometers, but this is rare. These canines can be called burrowing animals, on their territorial area there are whole branched labyrinths of holes and many well-trodden constantly used paths. Korsaks are accustomed to underground shelters, because. in the places where they live, the sultry daytime climate abruptly changes to a rather cool at dusk, and winters are very severe and snowstorms are not uncommon.
The corsac himself practically does not dig holes, he lives in the empty shelters of marmots, ground squirrels, large gerbils, sometimes settles in the burrows of red foxes and badgers. In bad weather, a predator may not leave its shelter for several days.
Interesting fact: In view of the fact that the steppe fox does not like to dig holes, but lives in strangers, he has to do redevelopment from the inside, the mandatory solution here is the presence of several exits in case you have to suddenly evacuate.
Burrows, the depth of which reaches two and a half meters, are several in the possessions of the Korsaks, but they live in only one. Before leaving the shelter, a cautious fox looks out, then sits for some time near the exit, so he looks around the area, only after that he goes on a hunting trip. In some areas, when the autumn cold sets in, corsacs wander south, where the climate is milder.
Interesting fact: Sometimes corsacs have to migrate, this happens because of the steppe fires or the mass extinction of rodents, at such times the steppe foxes can be found within the city.
Steppe predators communicate with each other using various sounds: squealing, barking, growling, yelping. Fragrant tags are also a method of communication. Lay, most often, denotes the educational process of young animals. Corsacs have excellent eyesight and hearing, and when running they can reach speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour. If we talk about the nature and character of these animals, then they cannot be called aggressive, they are loyal to their close relatives, behave calmly. Of course, there are conflicts, but it rarely comes to a fight (they happen during the wedding season), animals are most often limited to barking and growling.
Social structure and reproduction
Corsacs, compared to other foxes, lead a collective life, often several steppe foxes live together on one territory where their burrow settlement is located. Sexually mature predators become closer to ten months of age. These animals can be called monogamous, they create strong family unions that exist throughout life, only the death of one of the fox spouses can serve as the collapse of such a family.
Interesting fact: In difficult winter times, corsacs hunt in whole groups, which are created from a married couple and their grown offspring, so it is much easier for them to survive.
The mating season for Korsaks begins in January or February, sometimes at the very beginning of March. During the rut, males often bark at dusk, looking for a partner. One lady is usually claimed by several tailed grooms at once, so fights and conflicts happen between them. Corsacs mate underground, in their burrows. The gestation period lasts from 52 to 60 days.
A married couple of Korsaks acquire offspring in March or April. One brood can have from two to sixteen foxes, but, on average, there are three to six of them. Babies are born blind and covered with light brownish fur. The length of the body of the fox is about 14 cm, and its weight does not exceed 60 grams. The cubs acquire the ability to see closer to 16 days old, and when they turn one month old, they already feast on meat. Both caring parents take care of the kids, although the father lives in a separate hole.
Interesting fact: In the holes where the corsacs live, they are very much overwhelmed by various parasites, so during the growth period, the mother changes foxes their place of deployment two or three times, each time moving with offspring to another hole.
Closer to the age of five months, the young become identical to adult relatives and begin to settle in other holes. But, with the approach of winter cold, all the young foxes gather together again, which makes it easier to spend the winter in one den. The exact lifespan measured by the steppe foxes in the wild is unknown, but zoologists believe that it is similar to the lifespan of ordinary foxes and varies from three to six years, but it is precisely established that in captivity a corsac can live for a dozen years. p>
Natural enemies of the corsac
Korsak is small, so he has enough enemies in the wild. The most insidious ill-wishers for the steppe fox are wolves and ordinary red foxes. Wolves are constantly hunting corsacs. Although the steppe foxes can run fast, they are not able to do this for too long, so the wolf drives them to exhaustion, forcing them to completely run out of breath, and then attacks. In the neighborhood with a wolf for corsacs, there is some benefit. Fox predators often eat up the remains of their prey, which is often served by large gazelles and saigas.
It is more correct to call the red cheat not an enemy, but the main food competitor of corsacs, because they eat identical food, both foxes are engaged in tracking down medium-sized prey. Foxes also compete for the possession of one or another chosen lair. In times of famine, an ordinary fox can attack small cubs of a corsac, breaking the lair where they live, usually, a red predator kills the entire brood at once.
Regarding the diet, some predatory birds also compete with corsacs, among which name:
- saker falcons;
The enemies of the steppe fox can also include a person who harms animals directly and indirectly. People kill corsacs because of their beautiful and valuable fur coats; on a large scale, the steppe fox was shot on the territory of our country in the century before last and the last.
A man leads corsacs to death and indirectly, through his ongoing economic activity, when he interferes in the natural biotopes where this animal is used to living, thereby displacing the steppe fox from its usual habitats. Maybe in vain, but corsacs do not have much fear of people and can let a person close to them at a distance of about 10 meters. The corsac has an interesting defense mechanism: it is able to pretend to be dead, and at the right moment, jump up and run away with lightning speed.
Population and species status
Population size of corsacs suffered greatly due to uncontrolled hunting in pursuit of a valuable fox skin. Only in the century before last, from 40 to 50,000 skins of this animal were exported from the territory of our country. In the twentieth century, in 1923-1924, hunters got more than 135,000 hides.
An interesting fact: There is evidence that more than one million skins were exported from Mongolia to the USSR between 1932 and 1972.
It should not be surprising that now the corsac has become a rather rare predator, which is under special protection in many regions. In addition to hunting, the reduction in the population of the steppe fox was influenced by the economic activities of people: the construction of cities, the plowing of land, widespread grazing led to the fact that the corsacs were forced out of their habitual inhabited places. Human actions also influenced the fact that the number of marmots was greatly reduced, and this led to the death of many steppe foxes, because they often occupy their holes for housing, and also feed on marmots.
Now, of course, skins steppe foxes are valued differently than in the old days, and the introduction of special measures and restrictions on hunting has led to the fact that in the west of our country, populations begin to recover very slowly, but there is another reason – the steppes began to overgrow with tall grass, which complicates animal life (this is what happens in Kalmykia).
Do not forget that in some areas a huge number of steppe foxes die due to the fact that they cannot survive the harsh winters, when a large amount of snow does not allow animals to hunt. So, in many places the corsac is considered a rarity, its population cannot be called numerous, so the animal needs certain protective measures.
Protection of the corsac
As it has already been found out, the population of corsacs has greatly thinned out due to various human influences, so the beast needs protection from environmental organizations. Korsak is listed in the International Red Book. On the territory of our country, it is in separate regional Red Books. In Ukraine, corsac is considered a rare endangered species, therefore it is listed in the Red Book of this state.
In Kazakhstan and Russia, this animal is considered a fur-bearing animal, but special hunting measures have been taken that allow corsac hunting from November to March. Hunting activities such as smoking, excavating fox holes, poisoning animals, flooding their underground shelters are strictly prohibited. Hunting is regulated and controlled by special national legislation.
Korsak is listed in the Red Books of Buryatia, Bashkiria, where it has the status of a species whose numbers are constantly decreasing. On the territory of our country, the predator is protected in the reserves of the Rostov and Orenburg regions, as well as in the reserve called “Black Lands”, which is located in the open spaces of Kalmykia. It remains to be hoped that protective measures will give a positive result, and the number of corsacs will at least stabilize. Zoologists are pleased with the fact that the corsac is able to actively breed in various zoos located around the world.
In conclusion, it remains to add that the corsac is unusual in its miniature size and some nuances of life that distinguish it from ordinary foxes, showing originality and the eccentricity of this small predator. Eating a huge number of rodents, the steppe fox brings undoubted benefits to bipeds, so people should be more careful and caring about small and sometimes defenseless foxes.