The fennec fox is one of the smallest fox species in the world, and is native to the Sahara region of North Africa. They are most distinctive for their uniquely large ears, which allow them to dissipate their body heat in hot weather. These little foxes weigh just 3.5lb at most, and have thick, soft stroke-able coats and lithe, agile builds. In the wild, the fennec fox is nocturnal, but in captivity they have shown some ability to adapt their natural schedules to match their new lifestyles.
They are friendly, loving little animals with lots of energy, and can even be litter trained. However, they are still essentially wild animals and it is not really advised to keep them as a pet as they would be much happier in the wild in desert environments like where they originate from in North Africa. Their care requirements cannot be compared to that of the cat or the dog. If you wish to consider owning a fennec fox (or any other exotic pet) it is vital to do lots of research first, to ensure that you can care for them in the way that they need. In this article, we will cover some of the most frequently asked questions about fennec fox ownership.
Yes, it is indeed legal to keep a fennec fox as a pet, and you do not need a special licence to do so. However, it is worth talking to your neighbours and ensuring that they do not have a problem with it, and to carefully consider if your home and the surrounding area that you live in will prove a suitable environment for a fennec fox.
While you cannot draw parallels between the fennec fox and pets like dogs and cats, they do have some traits in common. Their personalities and movements are somewhat cat-like, but with all of the energy and enthusiasm of the dog! Fennec foxes spend about 15% of their time being highly active, 20% awake and chilling out, and the rest of their time asleep.
They are personable and friendly, and bond with their owners, often proving very affectionate.
The fennec fox has rather pungent faeces, but they can be trained to use a litter box, and providing that this is not left to fester, should not prove offensive to the nose! The body of the fox itself is not strongly scented, and they are not considered to be a smelly pet. However, they do have a scent gland at the tip of the tail that releases a strong, musky odour, but this usually only occurs if they are afraid or startled. This scent does not tend to hang around in the air, and should not prove overpowering.
The fennec fox should not be considered to be a low-maintenance pet, and they will certainly take up plenty of your time in terms of playing with them, socialising them and keeping them entertained. They do also spend a lot of time asleep, however, but when they are awake they are ready to play, and this trait does not diminish as they get older. They are also apt to get underfoot and zoom about, and due to their speed, size and silence, it is all too easy to inadvertently tread on them, something that you must be very careful about.
Fennec foxes have a barking voice that is roughly similar to the dog, as well as a range of other sounds at their disposal including purring, growling and yipping. While some fennecs are fairly quiet, others are very vocal, and their favourite time to make a lot of noise is at night! They will often greet you with excited yipping when you first get up, and may be very vocal when they are trying to encourage you to play with them!
In order to get a fennec tamed up, they need to spend plenty of time being socialised with people, particularly when they are young. Assuming that this has been done, they will very much enjoy being patted and played with, once they have got used to you. They are intelligent animals that recognise different handlers and caregivers, and will bond with the people that spend the most time with them. They respond well to food and treats, which can speed up the bonding process somewhat!
As well as loving to play all sorts of games, when they finally quiet down, they like nothing more than falling asleep in your lap, where they can be petted like a cat.
Most fennecs will eat anything that you put in front of them, be it hot, sweet, meaty or bland! However, it is important to feed them a balanced diet, and spend plenty of time researching their dietary needs. They should be fed a nutritionally complete diet, with plenty of protein as well as vegetables in order to keep them healthy.
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