Fennec foxes live in burrows throughout the Sahara Desert in Africa. These nocturnal hunters mainly feed on insects, birds, lizards and small rodents. Instead of relying on having a regular source of water nearby, they stay hydrated from the water they get by eating desert vegetation. Fennec foxes usually live to be about 10 years old in the wild and up to 12 years old in captivity.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Suborder - Caniformia
Family - Canidae
Genus - Vulpes
Species - V. zerda
Common Names - Fennec Fox, Fennec
Fennec foxes have mostly beige-colored fur that helps them blend in with their surroundings, although the tip of their tail has black fur. Their most distinctive feature is their large ears, which help keep them cool and also help them locate prey. At an average length of 11.8 inches and an average weight of 3.3 pounds, they’re the smallest canid species.
Fennec foxes mate for life once they reach reproductive maturity at around six months of age. Following the breeding season in January and February, females gestate for about 50 days, then give birth to a litter of one to six pups. The pups aren’t weaned until they’re around three months old, which is longer than other fox species.
Fennec foxes live in groups of 10, which typically include a mating pair, their current litter and some offspring from previous litters. They’re very playful animals that communicate through a variety of vocalizations, such as growling and chattering. The adults fiercely defend their litter and territory. Despite their social nature, fennec foxes do their hunting alone.
Fennec foxes are still found throughout most of their historical range, which includes the Sahara Desert and the semi-desert regions of northern Africa. In the 1960s, local populations in parts of Morocco disappeared, most likely due to the presence of human settlements nearby.
Fennec foxes are not listed as a threatened species. Exact population numbers have not been determined, but their widespread presence in the Sahara has led to a status of Least Concern. Fennec foxes are trapped and traded for commercial use, especially in the exotic pet trade, although the species is legally protected in several countries, including Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Other threats to the species include habitat loss and sport hunting.