Fennec foxes are undoubtedly cute, but they are also very interesting creatures. Today our Sonora vets discuss some facts about this adorable species and outline some tips about caring for one.
5 Facts About Fennec Foxes
1. They are the worlds smallest fox
The average fennec fox is only about 8 inches tall and weighs merely 2 to 3 pounds. That is shorter than the average house cat and a fraction of the weight.
2. They have diverse social lives
They tend to live in tight-knit families of up to 10 foxes, but the size varies depending on the availability of food in the area.
3. Fennec foxes have adapted to limited water
These furry creatures live in the desert, meaning they have adapted over time to accommodate for the scarcity of water. They stay hydrated in the heat just by eating leaves, roots, and fruits.
4. It has multipurpose ears
Not only do they have the largest ears relative to body size of any canid, but their ears also help listen to prey underground as well as keep them cool as they lose a lot of heat through their ears.
5. They have extra fur on their feet
The hot sand of the desert could prove to be a challenge for mammals, but not the fennec fox. The fur on their feet helps keep their feet cool during the day, and conversely, helps insulate and keep their feet warm when the temperature plummets at night.
Do Fennec foxes make good pets?
The fennec fox, also known as the desert fox, is accustomed to barren desert regions and native to the Sahara desert and other parts of North Africa. In the wild, fennec foxes are nocturnal hunters that dig burrows as shelter and live in close family groups.
Fennec foxes are occasionally kept as pets and behave a bit like active, playful small dogs. While they look like cute cuddly dogs, fennecs typically do not enjoy being handled let alone cuddled, and may bite if scared or nervous.
Characteristics of a Fennec Fox
Due to their nocturnal nature, it can be difficult to manage their high energy level during the hours when most people are sleeping.
Fennecs can be skittish and easily startled. Loud sudden noises can put them on high alert, and they are quick to flee when frightened.
They are territorial animals and in the wild they mark their territory with urine and fecal mounds. Unneutered males will likely mark their territory with urine inside your home.
Sounds of the Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes are very vocal animals, even when they are content. When frightened or upset fennecs can become very loud, letting out high-pitched vocalizations.
From screaming and screeching to cooing and more, these pets can be difficult to cope with for owners and their neighbors.
How to care for a Fennec Fox?
Exercise and Activity
Fennecs are quick, agile and active animals that require a lot of exercise. Given time and patience, fennecs can be trained to walk outdoors on leash.
Due to their energetic nature, allowing your fennec space to play inside your home will be key to keeping a fennec as an indoor pet. The carefree and playful nature of a fennex can result in broken items in your home. Be sure to clear the area and put away breakable items that your fennec can reach.
Vigilant supervision is required when allowing your fennec to run freely.
If you live in a warmer climate, a large outdoor enclosure could be an ideal way to shelter your fennec and provide ample room for exercise. An outdoor enclosure should include logs to climb and places to hide and provide plenty of room for your fennec to run and play.
Keep in mind that fennecs are capable of digging deep holes and can easily tunnel out of your yard within a very brief period of time. They are also agile climbers and capable of a quick escape over the top of most fences. To prevent escape you may want to keep your fennec on a harness and leash while unsupervised.
Fennecs are a desert animal and as such need to be kept warm. They should only be kept outdoors in areas that do not go below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fennecs require large amounts of exercise and should not be caged indoors all day. To keep your fennec housed indoors you will need a large enclosure for times when your pet cannot be supervised. You can create a larger sized cage for your fennec by joining multiple cages together to create multi-layers or a long play area.
When your fennec is released from the cage, you will need to tolerate quick bursts of energy and allow your pet to run and jump around your house to expend their pent-up energy.
In some cases, with a lot of positive reinforcement training and encouragement fennecs can be taught to use a litter box. Because they have a tendency to dig you may want to use a covered box.
Food & Water
In the wild, fennecs eat a varied diet of meat and plants, including fruit, insects, rodents, and birds. Most pet owners feed their fennecs a mix of cat food, dog food, vegetables, and fruit.
Fennec foxes require an adequate amount of taurine, an amino acid that’s essential for many metabolic processes in the body. Consult your veterinarian on the right quantity and variety of food for your fennec pet.
Do vets provide care for fennecs?
Not all vets can offer veterinary care for fennec foxes or other exotic companion animals. If you are considering getting any exotic animal as a pet be sure to check that your local vet provides exotic pet services. It is important to know where to go for help when your fennec needs veterinary care.