Fennec Fox pet
About Fennec Foxes
Fennecs are the smallest breed of the fox in the world and are native to the Sahara Desert in Africa. In the wild, they eat bugs, worms, and occasionally very small animals, such as baby birds, tiny lizards and occasionally fruits. They live in dens with colonies somewhat like condominiums– each to themselves, sometimes in families, but linked together. They live 10-15 years and are about 4 pounds full grown. Their large ears are designed to dissipate the desert heat and to listen for their tiny underground prey.
Fennecs have been bred in captivity for several decades in the U.S. No fennec fox currently as a pet in the U.S. has been wild-caught. However, they have not been tamed to the extent that the Russian Silver Foxes have, which were bred specifically against aggression for 50 years.
The most important thing to do before someone makes the decision to become a fennec owner is to visit one or more that are pets to see firsthand if you truly are ok with the smells, the cleaning, & the behaviors involved.
Can I Own a Fennec Fox?
First, if you’re considering a fennec fox as a pet, check quickly to make sure whether it’s legal to do so in your area. Four states, including Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, and Washington ban fennec foxes altogether, while Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas require a health certificate or a permit. Otherwise, if you’re asking, “Can I have a fennec fox as a pet in my home state?” the answer is generally yes.
Thing you should know about Fennec Fox
- Fennecs are very shy, and do not seek out attention. Occasionally they will dart up to their person and want to be petted, but it will be fleeting.
- Fennecs like to have their ears stroked as well as the top of their head and back of the neck.
- Generally, they do not want to be touched below the waist or on the tummy, although some do like tummy rubs.
- They do not like to be held for more than a few moments.
- They often like to be near you but not touched. No matter how much the owner.
- wishes they would, they simply do not cuddle.
- Fennecs are happy kept alone, or interacting with the family cat or dog (as long as the dog is not a hunting species- the dog’s reaction to the Fennec will be the same as it would be to any small prey animal, not to another dog.)
- They do not need to be kept in pairs. As a matter of fact, they may not even acknowledge another Fennec’s presence, let alone play with it, unless they are a bonded breeding pair.
- Foxes are not packed animals like dogs, or even pride animals like cats. Therefore, they do not respond to ‘training’ methods.
- They can be conditioned to expect certain things, like opening the refrigerator means food, but they will not come when called.
- Although they may recognize their name and look up when it is spoken. They will not learn tricks or walk on a leash.
- They may walk you on a harness, but they can escape easily and if they run off… they are gone.
- They do not return home nor respond to being called.
- Fennec foxes must be kept indoors in all but the most temperate of climates.
- They should stay between 70 and 80 degrees all of the time. If they are allowed outside in a pen it will have to be completely enclosed sides, top, and bottom, as they will dig or climb out of anything.
- Some owners keep them in their own room, some keep them in a large “Ferret Nation” type cage when unsupervised (such as when the owner is gone or asleep) and then allow them to be free-range in the house the rest of the time, as we do.
- They need to be out of the cage and with people as much as possible for them to become and stay somewhat friendly.
What Do Fennec Foxes Eat?
Living in deserts, it can be hard to find food. Fennec foxes are omnivores. They prefer any type of desert fruits, leaves, and grasses they can find. On cool nights they also can be found hunting for insects, small rodents, and reptiles. This fox uses its ultra-sensitive hearing to hunt their prey. The Fennec fox can get all its water from the things they consume. Their kidneys are designed to keep water loss to a minimum is that they live in desert environments.
Is fennec friendly?
In order to get a fennec tamed up, they need to spend plenty of time being socialised with people, particularly when they are young. Assuming that this has been done, they will very much enjoy being patted and played with, once they have got used to you. They are intelligent animals that recognise different handlers and caregivers and will bond with the people that spend the most time with them. They respond well to food and treats, which can speed up the bonding process somewhat!
Common Health Problems of Fennec
You will need to find a veterinarian willing to treat your fennec foxes and they need preventative care similar to dogs. They should be routinely vaccinated for rabies (using only a killed vaccine such as Imrab), canine distemper virus, parvovirus, and adenovirus. Your vet should be able to recommend a safe combination vaccine for the standard canine diseases.
There is some concern over using the “typical” MLV vaccine for distemper in fennec foxes, but there are vaccine lines available that are safe. A yearly exam is recommended, and your vet will advise you on deworming, heartworm preventative, and flea control, if necessary.
Can Fennec Foxes Trained ?
No matter what any breeder or fan says fennec foxes cannot be potty trained. A small percentage will instinctively use a litter box or puppy training pads nearly all the time. However the vast majority simply go wherever and whenever they want- in their bed, on the floor, on the couch, on your keyboard, in their food, then they will walk through it and then walk all over their cage. To foxes their waste is a marking technique to show ownership and they do not hesitate to use it. Both urine and feces are used in this way.
Most fennec foxes‘ urine smells like skunk spray. Some owners claim that certain diets can change that, however it depends more on the individual fox’s personal chemistry than anything, and most smell like skunk.
How Much Does a Fennec Fox Cost?
The costs of adopting a fennec fox vary from place to place, but an average price is around $1500 for a healthy adult fox. Breeders for fennec foxes are not widely distributed, so it will probably be necessary to look into breeders nearest your area and research their reliability and reputation.
Is Having a Fennec Fox as a Pet Legal?
So, you’re convinced a Fennec fox is the pet for you. Not so fast! Before you commit to getting this exotic pet, check your state’s laws. After checking your state’s laws, check your city or county laws to be sure. For example, Fennec foxes are illegal as pets in California. They are legal in Pennsylvania and Nebraska as pets though. After doing your research, if the laws check out then you are free to get your own cute little fox.
Owning a Fennec fox as a pet will be a lot of work, but it is possible. They are cute little animals that are fairly harmless. There are guides online about owning one so you won’t be completely lost in taking care of it. Training your fox is the key to a peaceful, long lasting owner-pet relationship. Your furry companion can live for 10-14 years so you will share plenty of memories with your fox.
Ultimately, fennec foxes are precocious, adorable, energetic, and unique. With their high energy levels and a specialized diet, fennec foxes need more work than cats or dogs. However, for someone with home space, knowledge, and patience, fennec foxes can turn out to be rewarding family members. In the end, it’s crucial to do your homework, because only you can answer, “Do you still think fennec foxes are great pets?” Fennec foxes can definitely be great pets, but they’re not an ideal pet for everyone.
If you have some insights, questions, or observations about fennec fox ownership, be sure to leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.