Fennec Foxes as Pets: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Christy Caplan
Fennec Foxes

The fennec fox is adorable and has ears that go on forever! They are tiny and weigh between 2 and 4 pounds. It is said they look like Pokemon. Their golden and dense coat usually has a black tip - all of their physical characteristics allow them to adapt to desert conditions. 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. 

Mother Nature Network tells us, 

"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."

Is it legal to own a fennec fox?

In the state of Washington where we live it is illegal. You must check to ensure it is legal to have a fox as a pet in your state! FaithfulFoxes.com explains,

"It is imperative you check the legality BEFORE looking into a pet fox. 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 do they eat?

Foxes are omnivorous, 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!

Yes, they need to see the vet just like any pet

VeterinaryNews.com gives us the skinny on vaccinations,

"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."

Behavior traits that should be on your radar

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!

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. 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.  

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 to choose from it's the most popular "pet" fox in the Fox family.

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, although TheSprucePets.com tells us,

"Some may take quite well to using a litter box, although a covered box works best due to their tendency to dig. The process for house training involves taking the fox frequently to the litter box or secure outdoor pen and giving lots of treats when they succeed in going in a litter box or outside. Never punish for accidents in the house."

Don't forget that the legality of owning a fennec fox varies by state, as with many exotic pets!

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!

Use your best judgment! Exotic animals may not make the best pets. The fennec fox costs as much as $1,500. If you love the fox species, check out the arctic fox and red fox!

What about their conservation status?

"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 about their gestation period?

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.

You can learn more about these small mammals by visiting the zoo.

Do you know anyone that shares their home with a fennec fox? We'd love to hear more! Please leave a comment below!

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Fennec Foxes as Pets: Everything You Need to Know