Fennec Fox Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small-sized fox typically found in the Sahara and Arabian deserts. The fox is clearly recognized by its unusually large ears. It is the world’s smallest canid but the thing that makes fox special is that it can survive drinking. Fennec fox is thought to get all its water from eating small rodents.

Fennec Fox Facts

Anatomy

  • The adult fennec fox reaches a body length of about 24–41 cm (9–16 in) with the weight measuring up to 1.5–3.5 lb (0.68–1.59 kg).
  • It has got 18–31 cm (7–12 in) long tail. The fox stands 20.3 cm (8 in) at the shoulder.
  • The length of the fennec fox’s ears is 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in).
  • The creamy coat is fluffy and enough to keep the animal warm at night. The white and yellow fur serves as a camouflage against predators.
  • Fennec fox’s front legs are fairly strong and probably perfect for digging burrows.
  • It sweats but only sometimes.
  • They have a remarkable hearing sense to locate prey.

Distribution & Habitat

  • Fennec foxes are likely to occur in Asia and North Africa. They are found in northern Niger, Morocco, Egypt to as far east as Kuwait and Sinai Peninsula.
  • The fox makes homes in open habitats or places that are typically dominated by plants. Prominent among the fennec fox’s habitat is sand dunes.
  • Fennec foxes are able to dig deep burrows which goes 1 meter in depth with the length averages 11 meters. The burrows can have as many as 15 entrances.
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Behavior

  • Biologists have not studied the fennec fox’s behavior in the wild and any information on its social behavior is going to be based on captive fox.
  • They are extremely playful of the foxes.
  • Fennec foxes produces a wide variety of sounds such as purring, snarling, and
  • Male foxes are more likely to be aggressive than females.
  • The captive foxes are often found burying their faces which they do so by pushing soil with hind feet and nose.
  • They are strictly nocturnal.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Fennec foxes have an omnivorous diet. They are known to consume rodents, birds, rabbits, eggs, plants, and insects. The fox comes out at night to catch lizards and rodents.
  • The individual fox is able to jump at a height of about 2 ft (61 cm) but it can also leap 4 feet in the forward direction. The jump is quite effective when the fox must escape the predator.
  • The fox is adapted to living in the dry environments and as such they must and they do absorb water through food consumption.

Reproductive Biology

  • Fennec foxes are monogamous animals with each of the family members seem to claim territory. Both males and females reach the maturity at 9 months age.
  • The peak mating season goes from January to February. A female produce litters in the months of March and April. However the captive female may give birth in June.
  • The gestation period lasts about 50 – 52 days but it can go up to 2 months in captivity.
  • The litter averages 1 – 4 kits and the weaning period lasts about 61 – 70 days.
  • In captivity, fennec foxes live up to 14 years.
  • Predators of fennec foxes include striped hyenas, caracals, saluki, jackals, and eagle owls.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

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