Fennec fox facts
Weighing in at just 2 to 3 pounds, the fennec fox is the smallest canid in the world! However, their ears tell a much different story. They have the largest ear to body ratio of any canid; their ears can get up to 6 inches long, which is about one third of their body length.
As a native to the Sahara desert and other areas in North Africa, the fennec fox uses its ears and other adaptations to survive the heat. Their ears help to dissipate heat and locate small prey. Their fur is thick to protect them from the sun and to insulate their bodies when temperatures drop dramatically at night. This thick fur also covers their paws which acts like snowshoes so they can walk on top of the sand.
They are omnivores that eat plants, insects, rodents, reptiles, and so on. They can go an indefinite amount of time without water because they obtain fluid from their food sources.
Fennec foxes in the wild
They are native to the Sahara Desert and other regions of North Africa, which are some of the harshest environments in the world. The average temperature is 104°F, but can drop as low as 30°F at night. The daily temperature fluctuation can be intense in the desert, so the fennec foxes need to be ready for anything.
Fennec foxes live in communities of up to 10 individuals that reside in underground den systems. However, they do form monogamous pairs that usually breed once a year, and litters average 2-4 kits. Their lifespan is about 10 years in the wild and about 13 years in managed care.
Officially, fennec foxes are currently listed as “least concern,” but this is greatly due to a data deficiency. There is a lot that is unknown about this fox due to the harsh environment, their elusive nature, and their nocturnal behavior. They do have protected status in some areas, but there are still numerous threats to their livelihood. These threats include human encroachment, climate change, disease, fur trade, and lastly, pet trade. Because of their size and appearance, there is a large market for fennec fox pets. However, it is important to keep in mind that no matter how cute they are, fennec foxes are ultimately still a wild animal.
The fennec foxes in our care
We have two fennec foxes at the Center: Daisy and Fezz. Daisy is a 1 year old fox from the St. Louis Zoo, and Fezz is a 4 year old fox from Busch Gardens. Both have incredibly vibrant personalities. Daisy is young and very energetic, while Fezz is calmer but very eager to please. Both go through training which is essential as our Ambassador Animals. This means that they accompany us on outreach programs to offsite locations, such as schools in order to enhance the experience for participants.
Adopt the fennec fox pack