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By Deanne Strat,
Photos and edited by
Susan Horton, DVM
Fennec foxes are in the canidae family,
closely related to the red and artic fox. They live 12-16 years
and reach sexual maturity at 9-11 mos. The female is known as a
“vixen” and a male is known as a “reynard.” They originate
from the sandy areas of the
. They are avid diggers, creating dens in which to live.Fennec foxes are considered threatened in the wild.
have soft, thick coats; coloration is reddish cream to fawn with a
white underbelly. They are fastidious animals with no strong odor.
They have a heavily furred tail with a gland at the end, whose
function is as yet unknown. They have anal glands at the 5 and position of the anus
which is used as a scent gland and there are also glands between
the toes. Fennec fox teeth are similar to that of dogs.
The Fennec fox is a social animal, and may
live in colonies of up to 10 animals. When approached, the captive
fox will normally cower, lay on its side, yelp and wag its tail.
They have also been known to purr. Fennec foxes can be taught to
fetch, which allows for great exercise.
Fennec fox should be kenneled when not supervised. A large dog
crate or ferret cage would suffice. They should be kept in an area
with low humidity and good ventilation. Avoid dusty or strong
smelling bedding such as pine or cedar. They can be litter box
trained and a covered cat box with a clay litter can be used.
are strong diggers and good climbers so make sure to account for
both when enclosed. These guys love to bask in the sun. If outside
they should be on a harness and leash, but do not use a collar.
Use caution even with a harness, because if startled they still
may wiggle free.
Fennec foxes are omnivorous and eat a variety
of foods in the wild. In captivity, they should be fed Mazuri
Exotic Canine Diet (www.mazuri.com;
800-227-8941). You can then supplement with a variety of fresh
fruits, vegetables, eggs, pinky mice, crickets and mealworms.
Be sure not to overfeed; an ideal weight is
between 2 to 3lbs. Avoid items such as onions, garlic, chocolate,
caffeine, avocado, etc as they are toxic.
All Fennecs should be spayed or neutered at
around 6 months of age. They require annual vaccines. Please note
that all medications and vaccines are considered “off-label”
meaning they were not tested or approved for use in this species.
Rabies vaccination is not recognized legally, but will protect you
and your fox from the disease.
They should be vaccinated yearly for Rabies,
Canine Distemper, Canine Parvo virus and Canine Hepatitis. They
should be tested annually for heart worm disease and be on
heartworm prevention as well as flea and tick preventative. They
should have annual fecal exams.
Foxes are prone to many of the diseases we see in dogs. Many of
these are husbandry related and can be prevented. Some common
illness include: kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease,
pneumonia, skin infections/mites, eye infections or glaucoma,
intestinal parasites, dental disease and histoplasmosis.
Fennec foxes can also carry some disease that
may be contagious to people such as: Tuberculosis, Rabies,
Leishmaniasis, and some intestinal parasites.