fennec foxScientific Name– Vulpes Zerda

Conservation Status– Least Concern

Appearance

The fennec fox is the world’s smallest fox species. They measure between 24 and 41 cm (9-16 in). They stand 20.3cm (8in) tall. The tail makes up 18-31cm (7-12in) of their length. Their large ears are 10-15cm (3.9-5.9in) tall.

The fennec fox has a fluffy, cream or sandy coloured coat. They have thick fur around their feet to protect them from the hot sand. They have the largest ears relative to body size of any fox. Their bushy tail has a black tip on the end.

Lifespan                                                                                  

In the wild the fennec fox will live for between 12 and 16 years. In captivity they live on average for 14 years.

Diet

Fennec Foxes are omnivores. They live on a diet of insects, eggs, birds, rabbits, small reptiles, plants, fruits and rodents.

They have specially adapted kidneys allowing them to not drink much. They can obtain some of their water from the food they eat.

Habitat

fennec foxThe fennec fox comes from Africa and Asia. They found throughout the Sahara desert between Morocco, Egypt, Niger, the Sinai Peninsula and Kuwait.

They live in desert areas.

Reproduction

The breeding season for this species is between January and February. While they usually breed once a year there are recorded cases of two litters per year. The male and female will mate for life. Following the mating the male becomes protective of the female up until she finishes lactating. The gestation period is 50-52 days.

One and four kits are born at the end of the gestation. They emerge from the mother with their ears folded over and closed eyes. The eyes open and the ears lift after their 10th day. The kits are weaned from the mother after 61-70 days. The kits then begin to go hunting with the mother.

These animals attain sexual maturity at 9 months old.

Behaviour

The fennec fox is a nocturnal species. They are more active at night so they can avoid the harsh heat from the desert sun during the day. Throughout the day they rest in their burrow. Their feet are well adapted for digging a burrow. The den may have up to 15 entrances and be 120 square metres.

fennec foxThe fennec fox inhabits a territory which it may share with a group of up to 10 other foxes. They mark their territory using urine.

These animals are known to make barks, purrs and snarls.

Fennec Foxes are preyed upon by eagle owls, jackals, hyenas and caracals.

Their large ears help to regulate their body temperature. The blood vessels in the ear are near the surface which allows for heat transference.

Quick facts

The fennec fox is kept as a pet in many places

These animals are used for their fur in North Africa

Fennec Foxes are the national animal of Algeria. Their national football team ‘Les Fennecs’ is named after these foxes.

Photo credits

Top- By yvonne n from willowick, usa (Fennec Fox) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Map- By User:Jrockley [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom– By Mark Dumont (Flickr: Fennec Fox Family) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons