The fennec fox is a small mammal that lives only in North Africa and the Sahara desert. It is also sometimes called the desert fox.
Even though it is rare, sometimes these small foxes with big ears are kept as pets. Fennec foxes act like small dogs that are lively and playful. But even if they grew up in a cage, they are still wild animals with wild instincts.
As pets, they aren’t usually very affectionate, and because they are predators in the wild, they may be shy and easily scared. Also, fennec foxes are mostly nocturnal, which means they are most active at night.
It may be very hard to deal with their high level of activity when most people are asleep. So, it’s hard to take care of a pet fennec fox.
Do Fennec Foxes Make Good Pets?
They have lots to do and are funny. On the other hand, they don’t like being touched. When touched, they might get scared quickly. Because of this, you shouldn’t keep these animals as pets.
You can keep a fennec fox as a pet, but we don’t recommend it. But there are other things to think about when caring for these animals. We’ve worked in shelters with Fennec Foxes before, so we’ll use that experience to teach you everything you need to know about them.
Things to Consider When Bringing Home a Fennec Fox
Even though fennec foxes look cute and cuddly, they are wild animals and shouldn’t be kept as house pets.
Because these animals need specific places to live and have a lot of energy to use, putting them in a home is bad for their physical and mental health.
There should also be places for them to hide and get out of the weather. Even though it might seem cool to have a fennec fox as a pet, potential owners should do a lot of research on what the animal needs before making a commitment.
One of the many things you have to do to keep a fennec fox is to give it a good place to live.
Their Food and Water Needs
Since fennec foxes can eat both meat and fruit, they may have a varied diet that includes both. It is very important to keep in mind that taurine must be in their food for them to stay healthy.
You can easily do this by giving them a mix of fresh meat and dog food that is sold in stores. In addition to meat and fruit, fennec foxes should eat insects, vegetables, and eggs to stay healthy.
As with any pet, you should take your fennec fox to a vet to make sure it is getting the right food for its needs.
Fennec foxes can eat many different kinds of meat and fruits. They can find their own food, or their owner can give them a varied diet.
Contrary to what most people think, fennec foxes don’t need a lot of water. They get most of the water they need from the animals they eat in the desert where they live.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t always give your pet fennec fox clean water to drink. They may still choose to drink it, and having a way to stay hydrated on hand is important if their diet isn’t giving them enough water.
Even though they don’t drink as much as some other pets, make sure your fennec fox always has access to fresh water.
Their Exercise Needs
Even though they are cute, it is important to remember that fennec foxes are not pets and need special care if they are kept as such.
One of these needs is to move around and exercise enough. If they don’t get enough, they might become lazy and start doing bad things like grooming themselves too much or eating too much.
Giving kids chances to exercise, like runs in a safe place outside or enrichment activities at home, can make a big difference in their health and behaviour.
Physical activity is also important for all pets. If you’re thinking about getting a fennec fox, make sure you know how important exercise is for them and that you’re ready to give them what they need.
Fennec Fox Behavior and Temperament
In the wild, fennecs like to live in groups, but as pets, they may be more independent. They might sometimes like to play with their owners, like a tough game of “fetch.” But there will be times when kids want to play on their own.
Also, most pet fennecs will let people they know pick them up, even though most of them don’t seem to like being picked up in general.
Some fennecs, especially males who haven’t been neutered, may use their urine to mark their territory. This could include the inside of your house.
These animals use different sounds to show how they feel, and some of them can be very loud. They are not good for people who want a pet that is quiet.
Some fennecs get along well with other pets in the house, especially small dogs and cats. If they meet them when they are young, they will be able to live with other animals and their human family members in a more peaceful way.
To keep your fennec busy, you will need to put in a lot of time and work. They move quickly, are active, and are agile.
Many fennecs will adapt to their owners’ schedules instead of being nocturnal. Fennecs can be taught to walk on a leash, which helps them use some of their energy throughout the day.
Fennecs need temperatures of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit because they live in the desert. If you live in a suitable environment, a big outdoor enclosure is perfect for giving your fennec some exercise.
People often use wood and wire mesh to make their own outdoor pens. The enclosure must be built so that your fennec can’t dig under or climb over the walls. These foxes are very good at both of these things.
They can dig holes that are 20 feet deep! Build the enclosure on pavers, concrete, or a wood deck to keep your fox from digging under the walls.
For a more natural look, add a layer of sand or soil on top. Either make the top of the fence slope in or cover the whole area with a screen.
When playing inside, your fennec will probably jump on furniture, knock over decorations, and break other things. So, it’s important to put away things that can break and anything else that could hurt your pet.
Fennecs should be kept in a kennel when you can’t watch them because they get into everything. If you don’t have a good place to keep your dog outside, use an indoor dog box.
Some fennecs can also be trained to use an indoor litter box. Because it likes to dig, a box with a lid works best. If you don’t, a lot of trash will fly out of the box.
The method for training the fox is to bring it to the litter box often and give it a lot of food when it uses the box correctly.
You could use the same method to teach the fox to go outside to the bathroom. If an animal acts up in the house, you should never punish it.
What do Fennec Foxes Eat and Drink?
In the wild, fennec foxes are omnivores, which means they eat both animals and plants. They eat things like rodents, birds, insects, and fruit. The best food for a pet Fennec fox is a commercial wild canid diet, which is what many zoos offer.
Most owners, on the other hand, feed their fennecs a mix of dog food, cat food, vegetables, and fruit.
Talk to your vet about how much and what kind of food your fox needs, since this will depend on its age, size, and activity level.
Most people feed their pets twice a day, but you should ask your vet about this. You could just put the food in a dish for your fox, or you could hide it in a reward puzzle to keep your pet’s mind active. Also, always have a basin with clean water on hand.
Common Health Problems
Before you buy a fennec fox, make sure there is a vet near you who can treat exotic animals. Just like dogs, fennecs need preventive care. They should get regular shots to protect them from rabies, canine distemper virus, parvovirus, and adenovirus.
Your vet should be able to suggest the right schedule for vaccinations. Your pet needs a checkup once a year, and your vet may recommend deworming, heartworm prevention, and flea control as needed.
Fennecs have health problems that are similar to those of many dogs. They are more likely to have kidney, liver, and heart problems if they don’t get enough to eat. These disorders cause people to feel tired and lose their appetite.
They could also get skin diseases, mites, or parasites that live in their guts. Infections of the skin can cause a lot of itching, but parasites in the gut can cause diarrhea that isn’t regular, weight loss, and a loss of appetite.
Fennec foxes need to move around a lot, both inside and outside of the house. Your fennec will need a lot of space to explore, climb, and play.
You can also let your fennec run around in a fenced yard if you have a safe 5- to 6-foot fence. But you have to keep an eye on your fox at all times to make sure it doesn’t start to climb or dig under the fence. You could also put a long leash on your fox and let it run around outside while you watch.
Fennecs are great at grooming and cleaning themselves, which is good news for you because it means they don’t need to be washed as often. In fact, you shouldn’t wash yours unless it gets very dirty.
The length of an adult fennec fox is between 9 and 16 inches, and it weighs between 1.5 and 3.5 pounds. Between nine and eleven months, they will reach their full size.
Training Your Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes are smart, small animals that don’t follow most commands well. You won’t be able to teach yours to sit, stay, or not jump on your furniture.
Fennecs are almost impossible to train, so you should never leave them alone in your house. They will start making a mess and destroying things. Before you leave them alone, you must make sure they are in their safe cage.
Some fennec foxes can be taught to walk on a leash, but many can’t. Please don’t think that you can walk a fennec like you would a dog.
You can teach a lot of fennec foxes to use a litter box, but it will take time and work on your part. Talk to your exotic pet vet about the best way to train your fennec fox.
Some Facts About Fennec Foxes
It Is the Smallest Fox in the World
Did you know that the fennec fox is the smallest fox in the world? It lives mostly in the Sahara desert.
These cute animals don’t weigh more than three pounds and have ears that are too big for their bodies. This helps them control their body temperature and hear small prey moving below them.
The fennec fox’s pale coat is also important because it helps it blend in with its sandy surroundings.
In addition to their physical adaptations, fennec foxes are skilled hunters and gatherers. They eat insects, small mammals, and fruit, which they catch with their sharp senses.
They Live in a Pack of 10
Even though they are small, they live in strange groups. While most fox species live alone, fennec foxes live in packs of up to ten, which include a breeding pair and their offspring.
These groups collaborate to hunt for small prey like insects and rodents and to defend their territory from potential predators.
During the day, the pack will also seek refuge in communal underground dens, rotating between dens to avoid overexposure to predators. So, the next time you see a fennec fox, keep in mind that it is most likely not alone; it is part of a small but close-knit family.
They Have Exceptionally Long Ears
Fennec foxes have the biggest ears in relation to their body size of any fox species.
In fact, their acute hearing allows them to find their prey without ever seeing it. In addition to their efficient digging abilities, their exceptional hearing gives them an advantage in their harsh desert environment.
So, the next time you see a fennec fox, don’t just admire its adorable appearance; instead, appreciate the adaptations that allow them to thrive in their natural habitat.
They Have Extra Fur on Their Feet
This distinguishing feature serves the practical purpose of keeping the foxes cool in their hot desert environment.
The thick fur not only protects the fox’s feet from the hot sand, but it also aids in weight distribution, allowing them to walk on the hot surface without burning their paws.
In addition to providing natural heat protection, the thick fur provides extra grip for the fox’s toes, allowing them to be agile and nimble climbers.
So, the next time you see a fennec fox with big fluffy feet, keep in mind that those tufts of fur serve an important function in the animal’s harsh desert environment.
They Are Very Loud Creatures
Fennec foxes are known for their large ears and adorable faces, but they are also known for being very vocal.
They are frequently heard chattering, yipping, barking, and even screaming late at night. While some people find this behaviour endearing or charming, it can be problematic for homeowners or those who live near wild fennec fox populations.
If you’re thinking about getting a fennec fox as a pet, make sure you’re prepared for the potential noise.
Pros and Cons of Keeping a Fennec Fox as a Pet
Fennec foxes are absolutely adorable, but they are wild animals. Even if they occasionally snuggle with you, they can’t replace the type of companionship you’d get from a cat or a dog. Most can’t come for walks with you because they’re difficult to leash-train.
Purchasing Your Fennec Fox
A young fennec from a reputable breeder should cost between $1,500 and $3,500 on average. A price less than this is usually a red flag and could be a sign of a scam.
You may also have to travel a long distance to find a breeder, as there aren’t many in the United States.
Some sellers will ship you a fox, but this can be very stressful for the animal. Also, it’s best to check out both the animal and the seller in person before buying.
Check that the seller can provide you with detailed information about the animal’s origin and health history. Also, try to obtain references from other people who have purchased a fox from that seller to ensure the seller’s credibility.
Furthermore, breeders should be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture. While they are more expensive, a newly weaned young fox is preferable to an adult.
This increases the chances of your fox growing up to be tame and friendly. A healthy fox will be alert and active, though it may be wary of you at first.
Why Are Fennec Foxes Not Good Pets?
Because they are wild animals, fennec foxes do not make good pets. Fennec foxes typically live in Africa’s deserts and require freedom to act on their instincts.
Consider frogs or mice, which take up less space, and feeder insects, respectively.
Is It Cruel to Keep a Fennec Fox?
The answer is not always affirmative. Many people misunderstand these animals and thus oppose them as pets, but others may disagree. You can’t say they’re ugly or dangerous, because the truth is quite the opposite.
While rescuing a Fennec fox is a noble endeavour, most people do not require them as pets. If you are interested in Fennec foxes, it is best to learn more about them before making a decision so that you and the animal can have the best life possible together.
Are Fennec Foxes Legal Pets?
Fennec foxes are not considered legal pets in some parts of the world. Some US states, Australia, and Hungary have restricted or banned Fennec fox imports, citing concerns about rabies transmission.
Fennec foxes, on the other hand, are classified as exotic animals and require permits to own.
How Much Does It Cost to Own A Fennec Fox?
A Fennec fox can sell for up to $5,000. This price includes the purchase of the animal’s cage, food, bedding, toys, and treats.
You will also require the services of an exotic animal veterinarian to ensure your animal’s health.
Can A Fox Breed with a Dog?
No, but there are some other animals that can be mixed with dogs. Some of these combinations include wolf-dog, coyote-dog, and the more general mongrel or mutt combination.
There have been numerous studies on how this may affect your dog’s health and behaviour, but the results vary greatly.
Why Do Foxes Smell So Bad?
Their strong odour is caused by a natural oil emitted by their skin and fur. According to one theory, a fennec’s stench is for self-protection.
On the African savannahs where these nocturnal critters roam, the smell may deter potential predators such as jackals or lions.
Most wild animals would be unable to smell them, according to scientific skeptics, because they stink too much.
To begin, fennec foxes are extremely intelligent and require constant stimulation and enrichment to avoid boredom.
This can be done by hiding food for them to find, playing with them, and giving them a strong enclosure with things to climb on.
Second, because fennec foxes have a high prey drive, they should never be left alone with small animals or pets.
Finally, because fennec foxes are temperature sensitive, they may require air conditioning or heating in hot or cold weather.
Finally, because fennec foxes are exotic animals, they may be illegal to own in some areas; check your local laws before acquiring a fennec fox as a pet.
Are fennec foxes easy to care for?
Yes. These big-eared foxes are easy to own if you provide them with everything they need to keep themselves busy and always keep an eye on making sure their fences and enclosures are strong and safe.
Can you domesticate a fennec fox?
No. You can play with it and even teach it to use a litter box if you’re lucky, but a fennec will always be a wild animal.
How long do fennec foxes live as pets?
In captivity, these desert foxes can live for up to 11 years.
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