The Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is the smallest of all foxes (40 cm in length with an additional 30 cm of tail). It is a strict desert inhabitant of the Sahara and Arabian deserts being particularly common in dune habitats.
The Fennec fox is superbly adapted to the life in the desert. It has strong forepaws for digging and densly furred soles to protect the feet from hot sand. Their dry feces and concentrated urine allow them to reduce water loss and survive indefinitely without free water. The large ears are perfect for heat loss and excellent hearing makes it easy to detect prey. Their thick fur serves as a perfect insulator against cold night air.
The fennecs have weak teeth and feed mostly on insects, but also consume eggs, small vertebrates, roots and fruits.
These foxes are most commonly seen in pairs but up to 10 animals have been recorded in a group. About 5 blind and helpless young are born in a burrow and are mature by 6 months. Captive fennecs are very vocal and sociable.
The Fennec fox is heavily hunted in the Sahara. They are also captured live and marketed as food. Wherever domestic and wild dogs and cats are present their populations become at risk. As a consequence, their numbers are declining.
References: File # 106