If you are looking for an incredibly adorable pet to have, the fennec fox is one of your best options. A fennec fox is a desert mammal that is more active at night than in the day. Its most distinguishable trait is its six-inch-long ears and its small physique. Because of its cuteness, a lot of people want to keep them as pets. But what does it mean to have them as a companion?
Here are ten more things you should know about keeping a fennec fox as a pet.
1. Fennec fox is the smallest among all the world’s foxes.
These foxes are the tiniest among its family. It weighs from 1.5 to 3 pounds and can grow for as long as 16 inches tall (head and body). Their ears can grow to up to half of their body size, adding to their cuteness points. But more than its adorable appearance, these play an essential part in this fox’s life. The ears radiate body heat and help keep their body temperature.
Because fennec foxes are small, they seem less expensive to care for, but it is not always true. They require a particular diet, which can be pricey, and a suitable living place, which will also cost you money. Remember, looks can be deceiving.
2. Fennec fox belongs to the dog family.
Are you wondering why the fennec fox looks similar to your beloved doggo? Well, it’s because they belong in the same family—Canidae! Along with coyotes, jackals, wolves, and, of course, foxes, they are a member of the clan of man’s best friend. It is the reason why it shares some of the characteristics of your trusty canine. These include dogs’ social skills and play interests.
If you always notice your dog digging, do not expect less from a fennec fox pet.
3. Fennecs are social animals.
A fennec fox will bond well with its owner, especially when you care well for it. It will also go well with a number of its kind. However, no matter how friendly it may be, your other animals may not be as pleased with it.
“Fennecs are highly social animals that reside in close family groups usually composed of at least one breeding pair, a litter of immature pups, and some older siblings,” says Annna McRee, DVM.
Contrary to popular belief, not all families can be friends. A fennec fox will not bond well with dogs as some dog breeds treat foxes as threats. Likewise, cats are not social individuals, therefore making it less probable for them to bond with this fox.
Pet owners who are considering buying these foxes need to remember this, unless you want a war among your pets at home.
4. Fennec foxes are 10% herbivorous and 90% carnivorous.
A fennec fox is an omnivore that leans more on the carnivorous side of the spectrum. Unlike dogs, their diet is more strict. The reason is that their intestines are not for digesting lots of grains and fiber. Their food must strictly be only 10% fruits or vegetables and 90% lean meat of chicken or rabbit. The best source of 90% of meat is insects like mealworms and silkworms. MBTP is a trustworthy brand of mealworms for your pet.
According to Jenifer Chatfield, DVM, DACZM, “Foxes are omnivorous, and you can feed them commercial dog food.”
Fennec foxes are sensitive to retinol, also known as vitamin A1, so you should never feed them food like oily fish, cheese, and butter, among others. Unless you want your pet to be undernourished and underfed, you must steer them away from this diet. You must also remember the 90:10 ratio and not force your fennec fox to be a vegan. This vegan pet owner tried to do so, and her pet lost its hair and became thin and sickly.
5. They are nocturnal.
Like most desert animals, this fox is more active at night than in the day. It is an important thing that you must know as a pet owner, as this will affect your fennec’s feeding time and enclosure. The reason behind this nocturnal lifestyle is that bugs, a fennec fox’s main diet, come out at night. Because of this, you may need to schedule their playtime and mealtime at night instead of morning.
A gentle reminder: you should not expect your pet fennec to adjust to your lifestyle as it is not the case, especially when you adopt them at an old age. Like the famous adage says, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
6. Fennecs can be loud.
In connection with its nightlife, these foxes can be a source of noise in the evenings. This factor can be problematic not only for you but also for your neighbors. They are not only loud at night, but they are also playful. You must consider this when you plan a house for your fennec foxes. And you must also remember this before adopting a fennec because returning them is not always a good option for them.
Because of this matter, you must consult with your landlord, if you have one, before adopting a fennec fox.
Lianne McLeod, DVM adds, “These animals make a variety of vocalizations to express their moods, and some can be very loud. They’re certainly not a good fit for someone who prefers a quiet pet.”
7. They are expensive to purchase.
As fennec foxes are exotic pets, they are expensive to buy. They cost more than $2000 for a baby fennec, which is the better option for you, or at least $1,500 for an adult one, which, again, is harder to train as a pet. Also, if you can’t find a licensed breeder near you, shipping a fennec fox can cost an additional $300–$500.
Kits or baby fennecs are better because it is easier to domesticate them. It is for this same reason that they are expensive. As such, you should be wary of offers that are $1500 or less for a baby fennec fox, as this is most likely as a scam or an illegal breeder. Also, always look for a USDA-licensed agent when buying a fennec fox to make the sale legal.
In states that require you to obtain a license for keeping a fennec, your proximity to a capable veterinarian will play a role in the approval of your request.
8. Fennecs love the outdoors.
Like most animals, the outdoors is an excellent option for these foxes, and it is especially true for this animal because it likes digging. But the question is: is it even an option for you?
An ideal outdoor enclosure for your pet fox must have room for digging, climbing, and foraging. It has to look, as much as possible, as a fennec’s natural habitat. Also, it has to be completely covered with a roof to protect it from extreme heat and cold. Also, you must make sure that the wire enclosure is thick enough to hold the fennec fox, especially since this animal likes nibbling, digging, and climbing. They can easily escape a thin-wired compound.
However, if your area has extreme winters, your these fox cannot be kept outside all the time as it is sensitive to cold and can die from it.
9. These foxes can also live indoors.
For pet owners who cannot afford an outside space and who live in cold places, an indoor enclosure is the best option.
One of the favorites among fennec fox owners is the Ferret Nation Ferret Cage. Owners make it bigger by connecting several ferret cages to make a larger enclosure. But do note that a fennec fox should not be kept in a cage for an extended period as it is inhumane. The better option for indoor space is a room dedicated entirely to a fennec fox. Like an outdoor enclosure, the room should be fitted with climbing, digging, and foraging areas to simulate a fennec’s natural habitat.
Assigning a room to your fennec fox can also help minimize the noise in your house and neighborhood.
10. Keeping a fennec fox is not always legal.
Almost all the states in the United States allow you to keep and care for a fennec fox. However, there are four states, namely, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, and Washington, that don’t. In the states of Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas, a permit or health certificate is a must before legally owning a fennec fox.
Besides the state laws, you must also consider the rules of your city or town and even your landowner’s rules before buying a pet fennec fox. Illegally buying this pet can result in your pet being taken away from you and sent to a shelter where it is unlikely to be adequately taken care of.
A responsible pet owner must consider all these facts before buying a this fox. A well-cared-for fennec can live up to 15 years and can be an intellectual and playful companion for those long years. In our opinion, fennec foxes do make excellent pets, but they are not for everyone. If you are serious about getting them, you should be serious about understanding their strict diet and habitat concerns.
We at The Furry Companion believe that loving and caring for fennec foxes, and all pets for that matter, start with understanding them to better care for them. If you want to learn more about another adorable pet, here’s our cute suggestion for you! Always remember: love your pets, and they will love you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Fennec foxes make good pets?
Fennecs make good pets, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea. They have some specific behaviors that require more patience from owners. Before you get one, make sure that you have read thoroughly about them and understand their diet and habitat requirements.
Are Fennecs dangerous?
These foxes are not a danger to humans, but they are not domesticated animals. It would be best if you exercised enough caution when playing or taking care of them. Fennec foxes also tend to be aggressive, especially when they are provoked.
What does a Fennec eat?
Fennec foxes are omnivorous, although they feed on meat more. Fennec foxes eat insects, including silkworms and mealworms. Keep in mind that the Fennec fox’s intestine is not suitable for digesting too many grains.
What states is it legal to own a Fennec fox?
Owning a Fennec is legal for most of the United States. It is only illegal to have one in Nevada, Missouri, Washington, and Minnesota.
Do Fennec fox bites hurt?
The bite of Fennec will hurt, although these bites will rarely need serious medical assistance. If you cannot handle small bites and nips, then a Fennec fox might be a compatible pet.
Do Fennec foxes like to cuddle?
Yes, these are very social animals and behave much like dogs. Fennecs can be playful, but always keep in mind that these are wild animals with dangerous instincts.
Can Fennec foxes be potty trained?
Yes, it is possible to potty train a Fennec fox. But since they are wild animals, you might need extra patience and consistency in training them. Training a Fennec fox is much like training a cat or a dog. Always be vigilant and keep an eye on them. When you catch them poo or pee inside the house, lead them immediately out of the house until they learn how to do it properly.
Can Fennec foxes live with dogs?
Yes, Fennec foxes can live with dogs, especially if they were introduced at a young age. Fennec foxes are social animals and do get along well with other household animals.
What kills Fennec foxes?
In captivity, a Fennec can live up to fourteen years. While in the wild, their life span is only around ten years. The main predators of Fennecs are large mammals, jackals, and Verreaux’s eagle-owls. The biggest threat to their existence include climate change, fur trade, and captivity.
Raezel is a teacher in the making and a writer. She loves cats and thinks that they are the best pets in the world. When she’s not studying or writing, she’s busy making crafts, reading literary works, or just sipping a cup of tea or a mug of coffee.