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Fennec Foxes

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Fennec Fox Photo (Trooper)

Trooper

Rick Monticello

Scientific Name:

Vulpes zerda (formerly Fennecus zerda).

Life Span:

Fennec foxes can be expected to live 12-16 years in captivity.

Size:

Fennec foxes are about 16-18 inches in length and about 8-10 inches tall at the shoulder. Mature weight is only 2-4 pounds.

Natural Distribution:

Fennec foxes are native to desert areas of North Africa.

Temperament:

Fennec foxes are social animals and need lots of attention. With proper socialization and training they will be manageable, but it is important to remember that they are basically tame wild animals, not domesticated animals like dogs. They are very active, energetic and curious, and they are great escape artists. Any outdoor pens must be very secure as they are agile climbers and excellent diggers. Care is needed if out on a leash that they do not get started and pull out of their collar - they are very fast and difficult to catch.

Notable Characteristics:

Unlike other foxes, fennec foxes are said to have very little odor. Although they are the smalled wild canine species, they have enormous ears (up to 6 inches long) which are used to dissipate body heat to allow the fox to cool off in their natural environment. They also pant very rapidly when hot. Conversely, they will often shiver (as a means to warm up) if it drops below 68 F (20 C). When content, they make a sound much like purring in cats.

Housing:

Fennec foxes generally should be kenneled when not supervised simply because they will get into everything, but when supervised can be out in the home with their owners. Indoors a dog crate can be used, and outdoor pens are fine as long as they are escape proofed (ideally a pen with fence continued underground several feet and completley covered). They can be taken for walks on a leash, but as mentioned before be careful they cannot get out of their collar or harness.

Litter Training / House Breaking:

Keep in mind that being wild animals, house training is sometimes a challenge. Fennec foxes may take quite well to using a litter box, although a covered box works best due to their tendency to dig. Teh process for house training involves taking the fox frequently to the litter box or secure outdoor pen, and giving lots of treats for success going in a litter box or outside. Never punish for accidents in the house, but if you do catch your fennec in the act of urinating or defecating simply move him/her to the litter box or outside immediately.

Feeding:

In the wild, fennec foxes are omnivorous, eating whatever they can find. This should be duplicated in captivity. A good quality commerical dry food makes an excellent base for the diet, preferably a diet designed for wild canids (e.g.Mazuri Wild Canind Diet). Otherwise feed a premium (not grocery store brand) dog or cat food. Supplement the commercial diet with fresh vegetables and fruits, pinkie mice, eggs, crickets, mealworms, and canned dog or cat food.

Preventative Health Care:

You will need to find a veterinarian willing to treat your fennec foxes, and they need preventative care similar to dogs. They should be routinely vaccinated for rabies (using a killed vaccine only such as Imrab), canine distempter virus, parvovirus, and adenovirus. Your vet should be able to recommend a safe combination vaccine for the standard canine diseases. There is some concern over using the "typical" MLV vaccine for distemper in fennec foxes but there are vaccine lines available that are safe. A yearly exam is recommended, and your vet will advise you on deworming, heartworm preventative, and flea control if necessary.
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