With ears like these, it's not wonder people want fennec foxes as pets!
The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) is adorable and has ears that go on forever. These tiny foxes typically weigh between 2 and 4 pounds, and their golden and dense coat usually has a black tip -- all of their physical characteristics allow them to adapt to desert environments. They look so snuggly that you can hardly imagine them in their native environment, the Sahara Desert.
They are the most social of all foxes and need an outlet for their endless energy. They enjoy digging (similar to a Dachshund or terrier) and can dig up to twenty feet a night in their natural environment. An outdoor pen and fence must be extended many feet below ground. It is said that Fennecs appear to disappear into the sand since they dig so fast.
"It is native to the Sahara Desert of northern Africa and can be found as far east as Kuwait. This species is uniquely adapted for life in a harsh desert setting, from its small size to its enormous ears."
Do Fennec Foxes Make Good Pets?
In some states like Washington, they are legal to own with specific guidelines included. You must check to ensure it is legal to have a fox as a pet in your state! FaithfulFoxes.com explains:
"Animals have been seized and euthanized in the past. Keep in mind no endangered animals can be kept as pets, and though some states might allow foxes, individual cities or counties might ban them. It is always recommended to check local city ordinances before getting a fox. Laws also change all the time, so keep up to date."
What about their conservation status? EndangeredWolfCenter.com says:
"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."
What Does a Fennec Fox Eat?
The smallest canid species are omnivores, and you can feed them commercial dog food. If they're kept as pets a canine diet of high-quality kibble is fine but you'll need to add an occasional freshly killed rodent or chick, some fruit, and vegetation. Their diet should consist of mainly meat.
Check out this resource for more information on what to feed fennec foxes if you decide to adopt one!
Health & Veterinary Care
VeterinaryNews.com gives us the skinny on vaccinations for these animals:
"Foxes should be vaccinated with the canine rabies vaccines, and kits should be 16 weeks old before they're vaccinated for rabies. I recommend keeping them on a one-year rabies vaccine schedule.
"Vaccinate against distemper and parvovirus on the same vaccine schedule as puppies and dogs (eight-, 12- and 16-week boosters; one-year boosters for adults), but don't use the modified live vaccine because it can potentiate disease. Use the killed distemper vaccine and stay on a one-year vaccination."
It is recommended you find a local breeder rather than have a fox shipped across the country. You can adopt a pet from any reputable fennec fox breeder.
They might be the smallest fox, but they're also the craziest. Crate train them as foxes are nocturnal animals -- They may be unpredictable if they're allowed to roam freely while you sleep! In addition, when you have them out for a walk, they should also wear a harness as it's easy for them to slip out if frightened.
The fennec fox or fennec (Vulpes zerda) is a wild animal but also considered a good pet. Experts say they are social animals and with the proper environment can be a good house pet. This desert fox is known for its signature large ears and of all the fox species.
Other fun facts:
- Body length: 9-16 in
- Body size: Male Fennecs rarely weigh more than 3 1/2 pounds, or 1.75 kilograms and females weigh less than the males, usually 2-2.5 pounds, or 1-1.25 pounds.
- Life span: Fennec foxes live up to 14 years
- Litter training: Pet fennec foxes can be litter trained with patience and time, though they're better kept to natural behaviors.
Staff note: Cats need large amounts of taurine in their diets. In many ways, fennecs are like cats when it comes to taurine: they need it!
Fennec foxes typically give birth to one litter of pups per year, with between two and five young in a litter. The gestation period lasts between 50 and 53 days. During the four to six weeks of rutting or breeding season, males can become extremely aggressive and will mark their territory with urine.
Use your best judgment! Exotic animals may not make the best pets, especially for the price it takes to make them comfortable -- These small mammals cost as much as $1,500 upfront, not including vet, food, and housing costs. If you love the fox species, check out the arctic fox and red fox.
Looking for your next pet? Find inspiration at our Wide Open Pets Instagram!
This article was originally published May 28, 2019.