Fennec fox

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Domestic fennec fox, note the big ears and small size

The Fennec fox is a small fox originating from the Sahara Desert in North Africa. It is best noted for its distinctive oversized ears. Its name is derived from an Arabic word for "fox".

Size and characteristics

The Fennec fox is the smallest type of fox with a body length of around 15". The bushy tail (as with all fox tails, called a brush) may be an additional 9" and the characteristic ears can be 6" long.

Fennecs are furry and a sandy colour which helps them blend in with their desert surroundings. The large ears help to dissipate heat and assist them in hunting at night. The Fennec is a nocturnal mammal.


Fennecs are omnivores. Wild fennecs will hunt rodents, insects, lizards, birds, and bird eggs for food. Being a desert animal, the fennec gets most of its water from food, but will sometimes eat plants as an additional source of water. Although they can last long periods of time without water they will drink water when available.

Tame fennecs will eat vegetables and most meats but cooked eggs are a good source of food. As with dogs, they will eat many leftovers from a meal.


The fennec is the only species of fox which can properly be kept as a pet. Although not completely domesticated, they can be kept in a domestic setting similar to dogs or cats. Pet fennecs being social animals, they are usually very friendly towards strangers and other household pets. The legality of owning a fennec varies with jurisdiction, so local animal control authorities or councils must be consulted before considering purchase. Because they are exotic pets, not all veterinarians will treat fennecs, so a local vet prepared to vaccinate and treat them is a must.