Fennec Foxes and Friends

Furry Little Foxes and Friends Gather Here!

Basic Fennec Fox Information

Kingdom:

 Animalia

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Vulpes
Species: Vulpes Zerda

 

DOMESTICATION:

The Fennec Fox is classified under CITES as an Appendix II species: "species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must becontrolled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival (CITES website)." In the United States there is a small community of Fennec Fox owners and breeders, and you can view the list under the BREEDER LIST tab. Some people believe the Chihuahua was a relative of the Fennec, but they are more closely related to the modern day dog than a fox. The lower number of chromosomes in foxes - 39 in dogs vs. 32 in the Fennec - makes it impossible for the two species to breed and produce hybrids.
The Fennec Fox is classified under CITES as an Appendix II species: "species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must becontrolled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival (CITES website)." In the United States there is a small community of Fennec Fox owners and breeders, and you can view the list under the BREEDER LIST tab. Some people believe the Chihuahua was a relative of the Fennec, but they are more closely related to the modern day dog than a fox. The lower number of chromosomes in foxes - 39 in dogs vs. 32 in the Fennec - makes it impossible for the two species to breed and produce hybrids.
The Fennec Fox is classified under CITES as an Appendix II species: "species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must becontrolled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival (CITES website)." In the United States there is a small community of Fennec Fox owners and breeders, and you can view the list under the BREEDER LIST tab. Some people believe the Chihuahua was a relative of the Fennec, but they are more closely related to the modern day dog than a fox. The lower number of chromosomes in foxes - 39 in dogs vs. 32 in the Fennec - makes it impossible for the two species to breed and produce hybrids.
 The Fennec Fox is classified under CITES as an Appendix II species: "species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must becontrolled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival (CITES website)." In the United States there is a small community of Fennec Fox owners and breeders, and you can view the list under the BREEDER LIST tab. Some people believe the Chihuahua was a relative of the Fennec, but they are more closely related to the modern day dog than a fox. The lower number of chromosomes in foxes - 39 in dogs vs. 32 in the Fennec - makes it impossible for the two species to breed and produce hybrids.

The Fennec Fox is classified under CITES as an Appendix II species: "species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must becontrolled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival (CITES website)." In the United States there is a small community of Fennec Fox owners and breeders, and you can view the list under the BREEDER LIST tab.

Some people believe the Chihuahua was a relative of the Fennec, but they are more closely related to the modern day dog than a fox. The lower number of chromosomes in foxes - 39 in dogs vs. 32 in the Fennec - makes it impossible for the two species to breed and produce hybrids.

 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.

 

LEGAL ISSUES/SHOTS:

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 find 

a 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.

 

 LITTER TRAINING:

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.

 

In The Wild

 

 CLASSIFICATION:

These little fuzzy critters are the smallest of all canines (Canis is Latin for 'dog'). Fanak is the Arabic word for 'fox.' 

The Fennec or 'desert fox' is a fitting name for this little one. Vulpes is the Latin name for 'fox' and is the genus name for 'true foxes.' Some believe Fennecs are related to the Chihuahua, but this is untrue. Dogs contain more chromosomes than foxes, which makes it impossible for them to breed. Others consider the Fennec a relative to the American Kit Fox or the African Pale Fox, which it is. That would indeed put it in the genus Vulpes. 

RANGE:

Northern Africa, across the Sahara, the Sinai Peninsula and Arabia.

 PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
 
Weight: - 0.8 to 1.5 kilograms (2 - 4 pounds maximum)
Height: 8 inches
 Length: 24 to 40 cm + tail, about 25 cm [ears 15 cm long]
Very large ears on a very tiny head and a sharp, pointed muzzle give this small fox a very distinctive look. Typical of any type of fox, the Fennec has a very bushy tail and thick, soft fur. It's teeth are small but sharp.

COLORATION:
Cream to sandy yellow with white "edges" and some black ticking, the Fennec blends with the desert sand. Their top torso is the reddish cream color while their underbellies are pure white. The tail is lightly black tipped and the whiskers are long and black. The eyes are a dark beetle-black. 

DIET:
 
Wild:  Large insects like beetles and locusts, small rodents, lizards and occasionally birds; some plant material, when available, like berries and succulent leaves. Fennecs almost never drink still water, as they get most moisture from their prey, but will drink readily if a water source is nearby.
Zoo: Prepared canine diet, plus occasional freshly killed rodents or chicks and some fruit and vegetation.

ADAPTATION:

Fennec vision, typical of predators is binocular and, typical of nocturnal animals, is enhanced by a reflective retina called a tapetum. The tapetum creates the illusion of glowing eyes, much like in domestic cats or wild alligators.

The six-inch-long ears are mostly for dissipating heat rather than hearing prey under the ground; an Arctic fox hears as well as the Fennec but the larger ears serve as radiators for animals that live in hot climates.

Fennec feet are thickly furred between the pads, ensuring the Fennec will not burn its feet running across the scalding desert sand. The fur also muffles the fox's footfall, allowing a stealthy hunt.

Thick fur in a desert animal is not what is usually expected. Because the Fennec is nocturnal, it needs insulation against the cold common in desert climates at night. The pale color of the Fennec's coat is reflective and helps keep the animal cool when about during the day. The light coat color also provides camouflage against the desert sands.

The Fennec will drink water when it is available but can survive long periods without drinking, getting the needed moisture from the food it eats.

BEHAVIOR:

Fennecs den, burrowing under rock piles and the roots of brush. The burrow usually has several entrances. The burrow serves as shelter from weather and enemies. A number of foxes may live together in what becomes an extensive tunnel system. Males have a small harem of several related females and their juvenile pups. Since Fennecs are known to live in groups, their social system is very likely the same as the red foxes (one of the reasons Fennecs are considered vulpine foxes).

These desert foxes are nocturnal, spending the heat of the day in the cool recesses of the burrow. They exit after nightfall to hunt. Fennecs sometimes use the stalk-spring-pounce method of prey capture so often used by red foxes. They also cache food for future use and seem to remember every cache site.

Typical of all foxes, Fennecs are very agile, similar to cats. They can jump straight up as much as 3 feet and can make a horizontal leap of 4 feet from a standing position, remarkable for its small size. Such feats are useful in both escape and prey capture. Pups have been observed bouncing, in play, like little balls. 

Fennecs, like all foxes, mark territory with dropping piles and urine, dominant foxes urinating more. There is a gland on the dorsal tail that is surrounded with black bristles that releases scent much like a skunk when in a life threatening situation. Vocalizations are many and varied, such as a purr of affection, a bark like a common dog, a happy scream, and a loud angry yelp.

BREEDING & GROWTH:

A pair of Fennecs Foxes stay together for many years. Usually one litter is born a year, after a gestation period of about 50-52 days. Usually 2 to 5 pups are born and the mother tends the helpless pups in the den for about two weeks. Both parents share duties in raising the young. Newborns have a short, downy fur that grows fluffier and more dense as the adult hairs come in and need to learn all the characteristics of their kind from the parents. The eyes open at about 2 weeks and nurse for nearly a month before they begin eating prey the parents bring in. Kits can get quite pushy when begging for food and it is not unusual for the parent to get very pushy right back, even biting.

Adult size is reached in about none months and sexual maturity shortly after. The whole clan disperses from the den site when the pups are old enough, for the food base is usually fairly depleted by that time. The group will move through its territory, taking advantage of favorite den sites in each area. A successful birthing den will be used over again. The captive life span is 12 years, how long they live in the wild is not known, presumably about 8 years.

 CONSERVATION STATUS:

Fennecs are rare in the first place, but they are hunted by native desert peoples for rodent extermination. They are also a CITES Threatened Species. A Fennec may NOT be brought in or out of the continental United States without thorough investigation.

Culture

 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.


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.

Anatomy

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

 

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