Fennec fox Introduction
The Fennec fox is a small animal with some surprisingly large ears. The smallest of the canines, the Fennec fox can range in size from 35cm to 40 cm (not including its 24 cm tail). They have a coat of straw-coloured fur and a long bushy tail, and their massive ears stand out to give their face a distinctive appearance. Their small size is well-suited to their lifestyle, as the Fennec fox is an elusive omnivore, feeding on small rodents, lizards, small birds, eggs, and even tubers and insects. While larger canines hunt larger prey, the Fennec fox takes what it can find and has been observed eating dates from palm trees and scavenging for food outside human habitations. The Fennec fox lives only in the arid deserts of northern Africa. This harsh climate would be inhospitable to any animal not directly adapted to such conditions. Luckily, the fennec fox is a perfect desert dweller. They are nocturnal, allowing them to hunt and forage while the sun is down and avoid the searing heat of the day. In addition, Fennec foxes have particularly long and thick fur which acts as an insulator to keep them warm during the cold desert nights and blocks out heat during the day. Most of their necessary hydration is obtained through the moisture in the food they eat, allowing them to go long periods without taking a drink. Their paws are unusually furry, a quirk which helps them in a variety of ways. Hairy feet give the Fennec fox more traction when running on loose sand, help insulate them from the heat of the ground and also assist in digging—one of the fox’s main hunting strategies. The massive ears of the Fennec fox also have a range of uses. They help them listen for their prey underground by picking up sound waves that penetrate the sand. The ears also act as heat sinks—transferring heat away from the fox’s body and into the air in order to cool off. Unfortunately, due to the demand to trade Fennec foxes as pets, they are often trapped and sold to tourists. Expansion of human settlements into the desert has also threatened their lifestyle.
Keywords to learn
Hydration: the process of absorbing water, maintaining a healthy level of water in the body
Heat sink: A passive heat exchanger that cools by allowing heat to radiate away
Hey Kids, my name is Farran the Fennec fox and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @
- Lifespan:Up to 11 years.
- Scientific Name:Vulpes zerda.
- Mass:0.9kg – 1.4kg (2lb – 3lb).
- Length:35cm – 40cm (13.8in – 15.7in).
- Region found:The Sahara, throughout northern Africa.
- Population Status:Least concern.
- Current population trend:Decreasing.
- Sexual maturity:9 months.
The Fennec fox is a fascinating animal that is uniquely adapted to its life in the harsh desert. While it may appear cute, it is also an avid hunter, scavenger, and survivor. Hopefully the Fennec fox can continue to make the desert its home well into the future.
Now that you know more about the Fennec fox by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
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Fennec fox Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Fennec foxes mate for life.
- # 2. They often dig extensive burrows, and will even connect these tunnels to the burrows of other families to form large networks.
- # 3. The fennec fox is the national animal of Algeria.
- # 4. Fennec foxes have a wide vocabulary of different vocalizations that they use to communicate with each other.
- # 5. Fennec foxes can jump as high as 61cm (24in).
# 1. What continent does the Fennec fox live on?
# 2. What is one way that the Fennec fox uses its large ears?
# 3. Name three things that the Fennec fox eats?
# 4. How high can the Fennec fox jump?
# 5. Where does the Fennec fox get most of its water?