AS A PET:
The Fennec is considered the only species of fox which can be kept as a pet. Although they cannot be considered completely domesticated, they can be kept in a domestic setting similar to dogs or cats, though several factors make it important to ensure that they do not escape. Their speed and agility (they can jump four times their own body length) combined with their natural chase instinct creates the risk of a fennec slipping its harness or collar. Further, since they are adept diggers (they can dig up to twenty feet a night in their natural environment), outdoor pens and fences must be extended many feet below ground. Escaped fennec foxes are extremely difficult to recapture.Wild instincts make Fennecs more of a handful and more enjoyable than a domestic cat or dog. As with all exotic pets, Fennecs have more personality, and are substantially smarter than a domestic dogs or cats. This also makes them ten times as stubborn and harder to train. However, wild instinct, such as hiding caches of food in case of famine, as well as attempting to burrow into furniture to build a nest, hiding food in the
cushions, and other instinctual behaviors, makes them a handful to care for. (Wikipedia)
SOCIALLY IN CAPTIVITY:
Fennecs are the most social of all foxes; hence they need outlets for their energy. They will grow tired of a household pet long after the cat or dog is sick of them. They will most likely tire other household pets with their playfulness and high-strung personalities. They will often play tag with the household pet such as a cat or dog and wear the other animal out way before it has lost energy. If a Fennec is the only animal in the house, it should be given plenty of attention; otherwise it will become lonely and not eat. Before adopting one of these amazing little critters,make sure you have enough time to devote to these little guys.
DIET IN CAPTIVITY:
Any diet in a domestic setting should reflect their natural wild diet. Food sources used should include high quality meat-rich dog food, wild canine food brands, cat food, raw meats, insects, mealworms, custom dietary mixtures, or any combination. However it is suggested NOT to feed them raw meats, as this will make their stools smell unbearable. I fed my little girl Nutro kitten food, monkey biscuit treats, cereal, meal worms, and vegetables, fruits and lettuce every 3 days. Never feed them too many fiber-rich foods, otherwise this will harm their digestive system. She gets EXTREMELY excited when I feed her lettuce, you can refer to my video. It has been said Mazuri Wild Canid diet foods have high amounts of preservatives - more than your commercial kitten or puppy foods.
The legality of owning a Fennec, as with many exotic pets, varies by state, so check the LEGAL STATES link. Unfortunately, because it is an exotic, not all veterinarians will treat Fennecs, so make sure to finda Vet who will provide vaccinations and any necessary medical care. They need similar shots as dogs do, such as Parvocine, Distemper, and Rabies. They MUST be killed vaccines however, because if they are live the fox is too small to fight it off. An experienced breeder will already have shots administered before releasing the kit to you.
Also, Fennecs either take very well to a litter box or do not like it at all. The best way to litter train them is to buy a potty training aid spray. I used the Petco Simple Solution Potty Training Aid Spray. Spray this on the litter, or puppy pad. Some Fennecs like puppy pads and some like litter boxes, it really depends on the personality of your fox. If you do use a litter box, make sure you buy the new paper litter. It is called Yesterdays News Cat Litter. Otherwise the clay litter clumps and forms hard rocks on your baby's pads, which will hurt to be removed. Always bring the Fox to the litter box/puppy pad frequently and whenever there is an accident in the house, take them immediately to the litter box. Always give treats and praise for using the litter box.puppy pad. My Fennec, Sora, loved monkey biscuits as treats especially.
CAGING RECOMMENDATIONS/OUTDOOR WALKS:
What I used for my fox was a Ferret Nation Midwest model 142. Out of all the cages I had this was the best. If you add on another level, this 3 level cage would be ideal. Other recommended cages are Proselect Standard Foldable Cat Cages, Prevue Ferret Cages. If you have an outdoor enclosure, it must have a covered top and bottom, as Fennecs can dig and climb, being as agile as cats. And Fennecs always need toys
and outlets for their energy in their cages/pens. My baby girl was only in the cage when I wasn't home, because Fennecs can get into trouble if left loose. And if they escape outside, you will probably not recover them. That is why they NEED a harness if taken for a walk outside. If they just have a collar, it is easy for them to slip out of if frightened.
VACCINE INFO: At this time there is no approved vaccines for the Fennec Fox. Use a killed or modified live virus vaccine.
Distemper. Do not give live virus vaccines. Galaxy D (modified live virus). PureVax Ferret, is for ferrets but is chick cell (canary pox) oriented and is Not a modified live. It is manufactured by Merial.
Parvo. Galaxy Pv, (modified live virus)
Rabies. Imrab 3, killed virus.
Heartworm. Heartguard or liquid ivomec is suitable for the Fennec. (Be sure it is not the kind for cattle with the extra medication for liver flukes) Tape worms. Panacure and Droncit are approved for the Fennec.
Shampoo and flea products. Be sure it is safe for a cat or kitten. Check the age and weight on the product as compared to your animal. Their systems are more delicate like a cat because of their size even though they are in the canine family. The fennec fox is in the 'dog' family and therefore are susceptible to all dog diseases. They can also harbor the same internal and external parasites as domestic dogs including worms and fleas. You should regularly check fecal samples for worm eggs and keep their area flea free.
Though the Fennec Fox in the United States might be a rare pet, and not heard of very often, some cultures find them to be an everyday pet you would see in the pet stores, such as Japan.
Japan adopts out these little ones in pet stores with extensive manuals on how to take care of them. And while I do not agree with this money-making method, I believe foxes should be thoroughly researched before adopting one, so at least these pet stores give out information.
I know some breeders in the U.S. that do not give out info with their kits. However, I stumbled upon these photos while reading a delightful blog about someone who gives their foxes a great home.
While not too much information is out there on Fennec's anatomy, I was able to come across a few X-rays where you can clearly see their little hearts, ribs, etc. and felt they would be great to share. These X-rays really demonstrate the fact that any Fennec owner will tell you; underneath that fluffy fur is one extremely skinny and tiny fox! When you are giving them a bath you will see the skinny little one underneath as well.
Also I included a picture of their teeth which are remarkably close to a canine, and you can notice the difference between the teeth of a domestic dog and the fox. The fox has extremely larger two teeth on the sides of the mouth while in the front they are almost flat. Some domestic dogs have sharper, larger teeth between the larger side teeth. Fennec fox teeth also
stand out completely from feline teeth, which have sharp serrated edges on each tooth. You may notice that the four long teeth are utilized for grabbing hold of the pray and killing it almost
instantly, and the smaller teeth in the middle are used for chomping the prey into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
And while I do not claim to know anything about the brain of a Fennec, I can provide you with photos of one.
This is particularly useful for your Veterinarian.
Fennec Fox Blood Values from the 2002 ISIS Chart for Fennecs
Sources: Wikipedia, Accessed 12/20/08; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fennec
Vaccines from Critter House and info updated. Accessed 12/25/08;http://www.critterhouse.com/vaccinations.htm
Picture Sources Accessed 4/2/10; http://tetoism.exblog.jp/Chart Source Accessed 4/4/10; http://www.critterhouse.com/vaccinations.htm