Fennec Fox Facts and Information (2023)

Scientific Classification

Common Name
fennec fox
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus Species
Vulpes (fox) zerda (Arabic for fennec, meaning small fox); former genus species: Fennecus (small fox) zerda

Fast Facts

Description
The fennec is the smallest of the foxes with enormous ears, a tiny face, and a pointed snout. The fennec fox is cream in color with a long (3/4 of the head and body length) black-tipped tail.
Size
Head and body 35 to 40 cm (14 to 16 in.) long; tail 20 cm (8 in.); height at the shoulders 20 cm (8 in.)
Weight
1.36 to 1.6 kg (3 to 3.5 lbs.)
Diet
Mostly carnivorous; includes insects, snails, lizards, rodents, birds, eggs, and plant matter (fruits and berries)
Incubation
Approximately 50 days
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 6 to 10 months
Life Span
Averages 10 to 12 years
Range
This species is widespread in the sandy deserts and semi-deserts of northern Africa, ranging from Western Sahara and Mauritania to northern Sinai.
Habitat
Fennec fox subsists in arid desert environments and is capable of inhabiting the remotest sand seas. Stable sand dunes are believed to be ideal habitat.
Population
Global: population appears to be stable and is not severely fragmented. They are common throughout the Sahara.The only documented regression concerns northern Moroccan Sahara, where the species disappeared during the 1960s from four localities, which were restricted sandy areas close to permanent human settlements.
Status
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Appendix II;legally protected in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Fennec foxes have extraordinary hearing to locate underground prey.
  2. Their large ears, which are usually 4 to 6 inches long, help to dissipate excess body heat on hot days.
  3. The fennec fox appears to be the only carnivore in the Sahara Desert able to live without freely available water. Their kidneys are specifically adapted to conserve water. They can obtain moisture from the food they eat and by licking the dew that forms in their dens.
  4. The fennec fox can have 2 litters per year if the first litter is lost and the food supply is plentiful. This is very unusual among the canids. Normally 2 to 5 young are born per litter.
  5. Their thick fur helps to insulate them from the cold desert nights. Their sandy coloration helps to reflect heat, and also provides excellent camouflage. Fennec foxes also have thick fur on the soles of their feet, which insulate against the hot sand of the desert. This extra fur on the soles of their feet also afford them excellent traction in the loose sand.

Ecology and Conservation

Fennec Fox populations appear to be at risk. They are not only suffering from habitat loss, but they are often hunted throughout the Sahara, making them rare in parts of Northwestern Africa.

(Video) Facts About Fennec Foxes, 34 Quick Facts About Fennec Foxes

Fennec Foxes do not pose any major threat to people or their livestock. In fact, they are important small predators that help to control rodents and locusts populations. The overpopulation of rodents poses a direct threat to the environment and agricultural crops. Consequently, small carnivores are extremely important to the balance of many ecosystems.

(Video) Information about fennec fox

Locally, in North Africa, the main threat appears to be trapping for exhibition or sale to tourists. There may also be a higher risk of road kill in areas of human development

(Video) FENNEC FOX is the Cutest Wildlife Predator. The Smallest FOX in the world! Desert Fox

Bibliography

Alden, P., Estes, R., Schlitter, D., McBride B. National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1995.

(Video) Fennec Fox - 11 Facts about Fennec Foxes

Macdonald, D. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1999.

(Video) Fennec Fox || Description, Characteristics and Facts!

Nowak, R. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Vol.2. Fifth Edition., 1991.

(Video) Fennec Fox is a Nocturnal Animal – Top Interesting Facts and Info

Wacher, T., Bauman, K. & Cuzin, F. 2015. Vulpes zerda. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41588A46173447. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41588A46173447.en/. Downloaded on 10 October 2018.

(Video) Fennec Fox Facts!

(Video) Fun Facts about Fennec Foxes – Cute and Exotic Desert Animals

FAQs

What are 5 Facts about a fennec fox? ›

5 Facts About Fennec Foxes
  • They are the worlds smallest fox. The average fennec fox is only about 8 inches tall and weighs merely 2 to 3 pounds. ...
  • They have diverse social lives. ...
  • Fennec foxes have adapted to limited water. ...
  • It has multipurpose ears. ...
  • They have extra fur on their feet.
30 Mar 2022

Do fennec foxes lay eggs or give birth? ›

Fennec foxes typically give birth to one litter of pups per year, with between two and five young in a litter. During the four to six weeks of rutting season, males can become extremely aggressive and will mark their territory with urine.

Do fennec foxes drink water? ›

Although they live in the hottest desert in the world, fennec foxes rarely need to drink water. Several features allow them to stay cool— oversized ears provide more body surface for heat to dissipate and thick fur protects them from the heat of the day.

Do fennec foxes have teeth? ›

The teeth are relatively small, with the canines in particular being reduced in size. They will drink at water holes in the desert, but also appear well adapted to survive with a minimum intake of fluid. Their kidneys restrict water loss from the body, limiting urine production.

Are fennec fox fast? ›

The fennec fox is one of the only carnivores that seems to do well in the Sahara desert because of its ability to survive with very little water. While their legs may not be long, fennec foxes can run 20 miles per hour. Fennec foxes' ears can be half as long as their body.

How high can a fennec fox jump? ›

They have been known to jump in the air 2 feet (. 6 meters) high from a standing position, and they are able to leap a distance of 4 feet (1.2 meters). These foxes dwell in small groups of up to ten individuals. Like dogs and other canids, male fennecs mark their territory with urine.

Can fennecs purr? ›

Fennecs can be found purring like a cat when they are happy. They are very social animals and live in colonies in the wild of up to 10 other foxes.

Are fennec foxes bigger than cats? ›

The fennec fox is the smallest living fox and doesn't get any bigger than a cat — about 9 inches (23 centimeters) and weighing 2.2 to 3.3 lbs. (1 to 1.5 kilograms), according to National Geographic (opens in new tab). Other species can grow to 34 inches (86 cm) from their head to their flanks.

Do fennec foxes pee? ›

Characteristics of a Fennec Fox

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.

Do foxes have genders? ›

A female fox is called a “vixen”, a male fox is called a “dog fox” or a “tod” and baby foxes are called “pups”, “kits” or “cubs”. A group of foxes is called a “skulk” or a “leash”.

Do fennec foxes have night vision? ›

Fennec foxes are nocturnal hunters. Night vision is enhanced by a reflective tapetum with elliptical pupils. Fennec foxes allow their body temperature to rise to 40.9˚C (105.6˚F) before beginning to sweat, thereby reducing water loss.

Do fennec foxes smell? ›

Though they don't possess scent glands like some other foxes, their powerful kidneys give their urine a skunky smell, and as they can't be trained to use a litterbox, one's whole house could soon smell like skunks.

Do fennec foxes get cold? ›

The thick, woolly fur helps insulate the fox against the cold, desert nights (2). The fennec fox starts to tremble with cold when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Celsius, but incredibly, they only start to pant when temperatures exceed 35 degrees Celsius.

Do foxes drink milk? ›

Foxes will also drink milk if it's there, but as with dogs and cats their digestive system isn't really equipped to digest milk and it isn't good for them.

Do fennec foxes eat meat? ›

These animals are omnivores, eating mostly leaves, roots, and fruits. They can also eat rodents, eggs, insects, and small reptiles. Fennec foxes can go for an indefinite period of time without water, as most of the water they need is provided by the plants and animals they eat.

How long can a fennec fox go without water? ›

IUCN Status

Fennec foxes can live for an indefinite amount of time without drinking water, getting hydration from the plants, fruits, and animals they eat. Their oversized ears are around 6 inches long.

Are fennec foxes cute? ›

Fennec foxes are wholly adorable little creatures, but they are wild animals. Even if they occasionally snuggle with you, it's not as though they can replace the kind of companionship you'd get with a cat or a dog.

What kills a fennec fox? ›

Its main predators are the Verreaux's eagle-owl, jackals, and other large mammals.

What food do fennec foxes eat? ›

Beetles and other insects make up the fennec fox's diet, along with spiders, snakes and lizards. They will also eat small mammals including gerbils and jerboas.

Do fennec foxes carry diseases? ›

Common Illnesses

Fennec foxes can also carry some disease that may be contagious to people such as: Tuberculosis, Rabies, Leishmaniasis, and some intestinal parasites.

What does fox poop look like? ›

Fox scat looks more like cat poo than dog poo. It is dark brown to black and about the length and width of a thumb, and it can look a bit dry and stringy with a pointy end.

Can fennec foxes hear well? ›

The hearing of fennec foxes is so finely tuned that they can hear insects and other prey underground! They can use their incredible hearing to pinpoint the location of food sources that are several centimeters under the sand.

Are fennec foxes easy to train? ›

As a wild animal, fennec foxes can't be trained as easily as domesticated pets. However, some owners have successfully house trained their fennecs. Some can be trained to walk on a leash. We recommended lots of praise and treats to encourage these behaviors.

Why are fennec ears so big? ›

The fennec may be the world's smallest fox, but it sports outlandishly large ears! In fact, relative to body size, it has the largest ears of any member of the canid family. It uses those big ears to listen for sounds of prey in the sand. The ears also help dispel body heat to keep the fox cool.

Is fennec a cat? ›

Being desert animals, fennec foxes enjoy napping in the sun. They have scent glands that can cause them to have a musky odor. Although they are members of the dog family (Canidae), they have many catlike qualities, including making a purring sound and engaging in mutual grooming.

Are fennecs friendly? ›

They are also friendly. Yes, they are wild animals, but they make great friends with humans. The fennec foxes act both like cats and dogs because they like to be treated like a pet, and they love cuddles. If you are planning on adopting a fox you have to have the space for them.

What is a female fox called? ›

• A female fox is called a vixen. • A male fox is called a dog. • A baby fox is called a cub or kit. • A group of foxes is called a skulk or leash. • Foxes are omnivorous which means they.

How loud are fennec foxes? ›

When frightened or upset fennecs can become very loud, letting out high-pitched screeching sounds that may not be well tolerated by people looking for a quiet pet. From screaming and screeching to cooing and more, fennecs are very vocal animals even when they are content.

Is fox is a dog? ›

Foxes are small members of the family Canidae, which also includes dogs and wolves. Unlike dogs, no foxes in the US have been domesticated. All species of fox are considered wild animals, including red, gray, arctic, and Fennec foxes.

Do foxes pee smell? ›

Fox urine in particular has a strong “skunky/musky” odour, the intensity of which varies with season and appears to be caused by two sulphur-containing compounds, Δ3-isopentenyl methyl sulfide and 2-phenylthyl methyl sulfide. Foxes have an acute sense of smell, and scent plays a pivotal role in vulpine society.

Do fennec foxes live in holes? ›

They have a relatively wide range from Morocco across to Egypt, south to north Niger and Sudan and east to Kuwait. Fennec foxes are found in both the Sahara and Nubian deserts, where they dig extensive underground burrows with sandy dunes thought to be the optimum habitat for them.

Do fennec foxes spray? ›

To foxes their waste is a marking technique to show ownership and they do not hesitate to use it. Both urine and feces are used in this way. Most fennec foxes' urine smells like skunk spray.

Can a fox get pregnant by a dog? ›

Short answer: no, they can't. They simply don't have compatible parts. (Of course, that doesn't mean they can't be friends: witness Juniper the Fox and Moose the Dog, above). The longer answer to why dog-fox hybrids can't exist has to do with the two species having vastly different numbers of chromosomes.

Can foxes eat chocolate? ›

- Chocolate: this tasty treat for humans is poisonous to canids. They can't digest it. It can make them very sick and even kill them (though if you have been feeding chocolate to foxes, don't feel guilty.

Do foxes get pregnant? ›

Fox gestation period is around 52 days, births are usually in March or April, and the typical litter size is 4 or 5 cubs, although litters of 6, or sometimes more, are not uncommon.

Do fennec foxes have big eyes? ›

The fennec fox is a desert fox that lives in the sandy deserts and semi- arid regions of North Africa and Saudi Arabia. This cute little fox has huge ears and very large eyes. The large ears help the fox lose excess heat and enable it to hear its prey from a long distance away.

Are fennec foxes color blind? ›

Foxes possess dichromatic (two-colour) vision that essentially makes them red-green colour blind.

Do foxes have 360 vision? ›

The fox has a viewing angle of 200 degrees compared to humans at 180 degrees. Their eyes have six to eight more times rod cells, which are more sensitive to lower light than humans. They have eyes similar to cat eyes with larger cornea and tapetum.

Why do foxes pee on food? ›

But foxes use urine and faeces to mark their territory, and so tend to leave their scent marks in conspicuous places, especially on objects to attract their attention. So anything new or exciting to the foxes is likely to be marked.

Why do dogs roll in fox poo? ›

By rolling in fox faeces, dogs mask their own scent and protect themselves from being detected by other animals that may want to eat them.

What animal smells like BO? ›

Stink bug

Native to China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan, Stink Bugs are now found in almost every area of the United States after being accidentally introduced. They get their name from the unpleasant odor of the chemical they produce in glands on their abdomen when they are threatened.

How do fennec foxes drink? ›

It Doesn't Need To Drink Water

The fennec fox is so well-adapted to desert life that it can live without free-standing water for long periods of time. 1 Instead, it stays hydrated in the Sahara heat just by eating leaves, roots, and fruits — these, together, make up nearly 100 percent of the fox's water intake.

What can fennec foxes not eat? ›

Fennec foxes should never be fed dog food, cat food, grains, sugar, or any other processed foods. They should only consume natural, whole foods that simulate their wild diet, such as meat, insects, leaves, vegetables, and eggs.

Do foxes cry at night? ›

It can be unnerving to hear a fox screaming at night, but it's a completely normal sound. They are not distressed or in pain, they might have just found a mate!

Do foxes eat dead foxes? ›

Foxes are opportunistic omnivores, whose diet includes rodents, berries and carrion. A study of the scat and stomach contents of road-killed specimens (to assess whether cannibalism could explain the transmission of a parasite) indicated that their diet includes cadavers of their own kind.

Do foxes cry like babies? ›

“The red fox is quite vocal during mating season with females letting out a cry known as the vixen call. To some, this call sounds much like a young child screaming and can be quite unsettling.”

Can fennec foxes purr? ›

Being desert animals, fennec foxes enjoy napping in the sun. They have scent glands that can cause them to have a musky odor. Although they are members of the dog family (Canidae), they have many catlike qualities, including making a purring sound and engaging in mutual grooming.

Can fennec foxes be left alone? ›

Fennec Fox Behavior and Temperament

Although fennecs typically live in groups in the wild, they tend to be somewhat independent as pets. They might enjoy playing with their humans at times, such as an energetic game of fetch. But then there will be other times when they prefer to play alone.

Are fennec foxes clean? ›

Fennecs have a soft, thick coat. Coloration of upper parts is reddish cream or fawn, the underbody is white, and the tail tip is black. They are fastidiously clean and, unlike other foxes, they have no odor.

Is fennec fox rare? ›

Fennec Fox populations appear to be at risk. They are not only suffering from habitat loss, but they are often hunted throughout the Sahara, making them rare in parts of Northwestern Africa.

What can a fennec fox not eat? ›

Fennec foxes should never be fed dog food, cat food, grains, sugar, or any other processed foods. They should only consume natural, whole foods that simulate their wild diet, such as meat, insects, leaves, vegetables, and eggs.

Do fennec foxes bite? ›

Fennec can and do bite. They have sharp needle-like teeth and do not hesitate to use them when startled or simply want to be left alone. In general they do not scratch people, but they do like to dig.

Does fox pee smell? ›

Fox urine in particular has a strong “skunky/musky” odour, the intensity of which varies with season and appears to be caused by two sulphur-containing compounds, Δ3-isopentenyl methyl sulfide and 2-phenylthyl methyl sulfide. Foxes have an acute sense of smell, and scent plays a pivotal role in vulpine society.

Can fennec foxes eat dog food? ›

Fennec foxes are omnivores in the wild. They eat a mixture of meat and plants. Commercial fox food isn't easy for pet owners to come by, most feed their fennecs dog food, cat food, vegetables, and fruits. Take care to ensure your animal gets enough taurin in his diet to support metabolic processes.

Do fennec foxes sleep during the day? ›

In the wild, fennec foxes sleep in burrows during the day to avoid the heat. They usually dig their own burrows, which can include a series of tunnels reaching up to 32 feet long! The dens also have multiple entrances and exits to provide the fox with a safe escape if needed.

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