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Do Fennec Foxes Make Great Pets? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Fennec foxes are small, furry creatures that live in the Sahara Desert. They’re also known as Fennecs or desert foxes and are also found in the United States. While they can make great pets for some people, they’re not suitable for the majority of people. Fennec foxes do best if they live indoors with a loving owner who understands their needs and provides them with lots of attention and care.

That said, Fennecs are outdoor animals—in other words, wild. There are a lot of conflicting opinions about whether these foxes should be kept as pets. Some people say yes, others, no. This article will simply present all the information we found relevant to the subject. We’ll discuss Fennec fox behavior, care, and health, as well as the legal, ethical, and moral aspects of raising this animal as a pet.

divider-carrotsSpecies Overview

Common Name: Fennec fox or Desert fox
Scientific Name: Vulpes Zerda
Adult Size: 9 to 16 inches long
Lifespan: Up to 11 years

Fennec Fox Behavior

As a pet, a Fennec fox can be very high-energy. This pet will need to be out running around and playing. Do not expect a Fennec Fox to hang out with you while watching TV or working on the computer! Fennec foxes are very social animals, which is another reason they are not that great of pets – they will constantly want attention from their one person and cry if they don’t get it.

The only time that a Fennec fox should stay inside is when it’s sick or freezing outside. All other times, this animal needs to have lots of room and running space for exercise. If your house and yard are too tiny for a Fennec Fox, then it’s not a suitable environment for this pet. This animal is destructive when bored, so don’t be surprised if it chews up things in your home or tears apart something you are currently working on.

Fennec Fox Temperament

The Fennec fox is known by locals for being a friendly, hardy pet. Do not try to pat or touch your Fennec fox right after feeding it, though – this is the time when they will bite their most because they are so full of energy and food. Since Fennecs can be aggressive with dogs, cats, and other household pets, they do best if there’s just one pet in the household. Do not keep a wild Fennec in the same house as children, as their bite is very strong and can be deadly to a small child.

Housing For the Fennec Fox

A Fennec fox is not a domesticated animal, and it needs to be housed outside. Do you have the space for that? You will need an outdoor pen of at least six feet by ten feet (give or take). If there will be only one or two, then three-foot fencing should work well.

The pen should have a roof and be built in an area where there are no predators – meaning it shouldn’t be near your home or other buildings. A heated dog house is the best option for housing, instead of just leaving the Fennec to freeze on its own at night-time.

One thing to keep in mind is escapees! Make sure your exit gates are secure and durable enough for your Fennec fox. If you are housing more than one Fennec Fox, then it is best to have their own space and a lot of room in between each other to roam around freely without any confrontations.

Fennec Foxes in the cage_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Food and Water

Technically, since they are omnivorous, you can feed your Fennec anything from meat to fruits and vegetables

They eat a diet high in protein but low in carbohydrates and fat. It would help if you did not feed your Fennec any food, however, as the wrong foods can cause health problems or even death. They also require more water than other animals of their size due to living in desert environments where it’s boiling. Do not leave a bowl of water out for them, you must provide fresh water every day.

Lifespan

Fennec Foxes can live up to 15 years if cared for properly.

Health and Vulnerability

Some health issues to watch out for are:

Kidney problems may be caused by a lack of calcium in the diet. It is important that you don’t overfeed your Fennec as this can lead to kidney failure. Luckily, this condition can be treated if you feed your Fennec a calcium and Vitamin D fortified food.

If your Fennec has worms, this is due to fleas that have infested his or her coat. Make sure to treat for fleas and keep them under control so they don’t harm your Fennec fox.

You must also not feed your Fennec fox meat that is full of fat or any type of human food. If you feed it only these types of things, it can develop pancreatitis and will most likely die because this disease is so hard to treat.

Fennec Foxes_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Why Are Fennec Foxes Not Good Pets?

A Fennec fox does not make a good pet because they are a wild animal. Fennec foxes typically live in the deserts of Africa and need to run free to behave as their instincts dictate. They can survive in outdoor environments with a large pen for exercise or an apartment if raised from birth without contact with humans, but most people would never want to keep them as pets since too much time is needed for care and money is required for food.

You may want to consider frogs or mice, which require less space, and feeder insects, respectively.

Is It Cruel to Keep a Fennec Fox?

The answer is not always yes. Many people have misconceptions about these animals and therefore oppose them as pets, but others may disagree. You can’t say that they are ugly or dangerous because the truth of the matter is that they are quite the opposite.

Rescuing a Fennec fox can be a good thing to do, but most people don’t need them as pets. If you are interested in Fennec foxes, then it is best that you learn more about them first before making your decision, so that you and the animal will have the happiest life possible together.

Are Fennec Foxes Legal Pets?

Fennec foxes are not legal pets in certain parts of the world. Countries including some U.S states, Australia, and Hungary have restricted or banned Fennec fox imports, in part due to concerns about rabies transmission.

Elsewhere, Fennec foxes are regulated as exotic animals and require permits for ownership.

How Much Does It Cost to Own A Fennec Fox?

A Fennec fox can cost up to $5,000. This price includes purchasing a cage, food, bedding, toys, and treats for the animal. Other costs may not be covered by this sum, such as heating or air conditioning in your home if you keep it inside during certain seasons. You will also need an exotic animal vet to ensure your animal stays healthy.

Can A Fox Breed with a Dog?

The answer is no, but there are a few other animals that can be mixed with dogs. Some examples of these mixes include wolf-dog, coyote-dog mix, and the more generic mongrel or mutt combination. There are many studies about how this might affect your dog’s health and behavior, but they vary quite a bit.

Fennec Foxes sleep_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Why Do Foxes Smell So Bad?

Their pungent odor is the result of a natural oil they emit from their skin and fur. A Fennec’s stench, according to one theory, is for self-protection. The smell may ward off potential predators such as jackals or lions on the African savannahs where these nocturnal critters roam. Scientific skeptics doubt that most wild animals would be able to smell them because they stink too much.

divider-carrotsConclusion

It’s important to note that Fennec foxes are not the best pet for every family. They have many needs, and many people don’t realize what they’re getting into before it’s too late. You’ll need an enclosure with proper fencing as well as natural light, fresh air, and plenty of room to run.

If you can make sure these requirements are met, this type of pet could be an adorable addition to your family! That being said, remember that owning a wild animal has its challenges, so please do your research first if you’re considering adopting one from our shelter or elsewhere.

We hope we’ve answered some common questions about Fennec fox behavior in this blog post!


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.