- Fennec Fox
name = Fennec FoxMSW3 Wozencraft|id=14000938]
status = DD
status_system = iucn2.3
trend = unknown
status_ref = IUCN2006|assessors=Asa "et al"|year=2004|id=41588|title=Vulpes zerda|downloaded=
12 May 2006Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as data deficient.]
image_caption = At
Wilhelma Zoo, Germany
phylum = Chordata
genus = "
species = "V. zerda"
binomial = "Vulpes zerda"
binomial_authority = (Zimmermann, 1780)
range_map_caption = Range shown in red
The Fennec Fox ("Vulpes zerda") is a small nocturnal
foxfound in the Sahara Desertof North Africawhich has distinctive very large ears.
The Fennec Fox weighs up to kg to lb|1.5|abbr=yes|wiki=yes|precision=1 with a body length of up to cm to in|40|abbr=yes|wiki=yes|precision=0. The tail is an additional cm to in|25|abbr=yes|precision=0 or so, and the ears can be cm to in|15|abbr=yes|precision=0 long. The coats are often a sandy color, allowing them to blend with their desert surroundings. Its characteristic ears serve to scatter heat and to hear the movement of prey at night. Its ears are sensitive enough to hear large insects, such as beetles and locusts walk on the sand. Its coat reflects sunlight during the day and conserves heat at night. The soles of its feet are protected from the hot sand by thick fur.
The Fennec Fox is a
nocturnal omnivore. At night, it hunts rodents, insects, birds, and eggs of birds and insects. Much of the diet is desert vegetation, from which the Fennec Fox gets most of its water. This consists of grasses, some roots, and some fruit and berries. The Fennec Fox can survive extremely long without drinking water, sometimes years, but drinks when water is available.
The breeding season is normally January through March. After about 52 days of gestation, a female gives birth to a litter of 2-5 young. She keeps males out of the den until the offspring are older. The young rely on their mother's milk for about a month. The mother may give birth once a year, although twice a year is possible but very rare.
The Fennec Fox is classified under CITES as an Appendix II species: [ [http://www.cites.org/gallery/species/mammal/Fennec_fox.html Untitled Document ] ] species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but whose trade must be controlled to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. [ [http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/how.shtml How CITES works ] ] It is often hunted by humans, though it does not cause any direct harm to human interests. Like other foxes, it is prized for its fur by the indigenous people of the Sahara and Sinai.
There is debate among scientists as to whether the Fennec Fox belongs to the genus "
Vulpes" (true foxes). It has uncharacteristic behaviors, such as packs called 'harems' while all other foxes are solitary. It also has only 32 chromosomepairs, while other foxes have 35 to 39. This has led to two conflicting classifications: "Vulpes zerda", implying that the Fennec Fox is a true fox, and "Fennecus zerda", implying that the Fennec Fox belongs to its own genus.
The Fennec Fox is considered the only species of fox which can properly be kept as a pet. Although it cannot be considered
domesticated, it can be kept in a domestic setting similar to dogs or cats. In the United States and Canada there is a relatively established community of fennec fox owners and breeders.
Pet Fennec Foxes, being the most social among foxes, are usually very friendly towards strangers and other household pets. However, they are extremely active, and need outlets for their energy; they may exhaust other household pets with their playfulness. Moreover, instinctual behaviors, such as hiding caches of food in case of famine and attempting to burrow into furniture to build a nest, can also add to the difficulty of their care. Fennec Foxes are often not able to be housebroken, although a few owners have reported being able to litter-train their fennec foxes.
Several factors make it important to ensure that a pet does not escape. Its speed and agility (they can jump four times their own body length), along with their natural chase instinct, creates the risk of a Fennec Fox slipping its harness or collar. Since it is also an adept digger (it can dig up to 20 feet a night in its natural environment), outdoor pens and fences must be extended several feet below ground. Escaped fennec foxes are extremely difficult to recapture.
Any diet in a domestic setting should reflect their diet in the wild. Though omnivorous, a great deal of their diet consists of meat and protein sources like insects. Food sources commonly used include high quality meat-rich dog food, wild canine food brands, cat food, raw meats, insects, mealworms and custom dietary mixtures.
The legality of owning a fennec varies by jurisdiction, as with many exotic pets. Also, being considered an exotic animal, not all veterinarians will treat them.
* Larivière, Serge (2002). " [http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Biology/VHAYSSEN/msi/default.html Vulpes zerda] ". "Mammalian Species", (714):1–5.
* [http://exoticpets.about.com/od/fennecfoxes/ About.com Exotic Pets] - Entry on fennec foxes
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