Monday, November 11, 2013

The Bat-eared Fennec Fox


 Here's another fox that I had to throw in here because I couldn't resist. The unique looking Fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) is found in the Sahara desert of Northern Africa (and also in the Sinai and Arabian Peninsula) and is commonly kept as an exotic pet. Their most distinct feature is their unusually large ears which measure six inches long and serve to dissipate heat in the sweltering heat of the desert (unlike their Arctic kin who are well-adapted to the cold!). They are extremely small and agile, only weighing around 3 lbs. and are 8 inches tall at the shoulder. Their small, nimble structure allows them to jump up to 2 feet high and 4 feet forward. They are nocturnal and omnivourus; usually hunting insects, small mammals and birds using their exceptionally long ears to detect their prey underground. The Fennec fox is so well adapted to heat that they can live without water for an indefinite period of time because their kidneys are adapted to restrict water loss and they produce highly concentrated urine. They also obtain the majority of water from the food they eat. In addition, their thick fur helps to insulate them from the cold desert nights and they have protective hairs on the soles of their feet that protect them from the hot desert sand. They are adept burrowers that live within underground burrows throughout the day and are reported to be capable of digging 20 feet in one night. Their dens can be as large as 1,200 square feet. Fennec foxes usually have up to five young per litter and they can also have two litters per year which is unusual among canids. The kits are weaned at 70 days and become sexually mature at 11 months. They are also monogamous, meaning they mate for life. In captivity, they can live up to 12 years however it is unknown how long they can live in the wild, though it is estimated to be up to 10 years. Their main predators are animals such as eagles, jackals and owls and they are hunted for their fur throughout Africa which is prized among the indigenous peoples.
Fennec fox burrowing

As pets, Fennec foxes are typically shy and unpredictable and are not recommended for everyone. They are solitary creatures which normally do not interact with humans even when kept domestically. They have a habit of digging (an instict from burrowing in the wild) and they are usually only recommended for experienced pet owners and it is best to raise them as kits. Also keep in mind that they are not legal everywhere and they are very expensive!

Sleepy Fennec fox

   Did you know?  The Fennec fox is the smallest of all canids. 




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