Hey, everyone! I know that it's not quite Wednesday yet, but I'll be traveling tomorrow and probably won't have time to do the Wednesday Woof. I don't think that will bother any of you too much, though. Look at this face:
The Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small fox that can be found in the Sahara desert in northern Africa. Its most distinctive feature, as you've noticed, are its large ears, which help to dissipate heat and keep it cool in the desert heat. Its ears are so sensitive that they can even hear prey moving around underground. Fennec Foxes get their name from the Arabic word fanak, which means "fox."
Fennec Foxes are small, weighing only up to 3.5 pounds (1.6 Kg) and measuring 16 inches (41 cm) in body length. Their pale coat is fluffy and deflects the heat of the day and keeps them warm at night. As added protection from the hot desert sands, its feet are covered with a thick layer of fur, which helps to insulate them. Fennec Foxes make a variety of sounds, including barks and a purring sound which is similar to that of a domestic cat.
Although most observations regarding the social behavior of Fennec Foxes have been made from captive foxes, it's believed that Fennecs will live in family groups made up of mated pairs and their offspring. It's likely that the surviving members of the previous year's litter will stay with the mated pair even after a new litter is born, before eventually breaking off on their own. Female Fennec Foxes will give birth to a litter of one to four kits after a gestation period of 50 to 60 days.
Fennec Foxes are omnivores, which means that their diet consists of a variety of food sources. Plants, insects, rodents, eggs, birds and rabbits have all been identified as part of a Fennec Fox's search for food. They are good jumpers, able to leap vertically two feet, or forward four feet (impressive distances when you compare those distances to their size). They will drink free water if it's available, but are able to survive without it, taking their water from their food and licking the dew that forms on the entrances to their burrows. Their kidneys are adapted to prevent water loss.
The Fennec Fox is currently listed as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN, but their trade is regulated to prevent any adverse effects on the survival of the species. It is hunted for fur, and not because it poses any kind of threat to humans or their agricultural interests. Fennec Foxes are also rising in popularity as pets, and are considered to be an exotic pet in the United States.
It was difficult to actually find pictures of Fennec Foxes in the wild - many of the available pictures are zoo specimens or pets. I know that they're very cute, but if you decide you just can't live without one of these foxes as pets, please check the regulations in your area, as they vary by region. You don't want to have your pet taken away from you to an uncertain fate just because you didn't do your research. Also important is to obtain your fox from a reputable registered breeder, which will ensure that your fox is less likely to have health problems due to inbreeding. And above all, please please PLEASE remember that you have an animal that can be kept in a domestic setting - it is NOT domesticated. There is a difference. Be a responsible pet owner.