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What Do Fennec Foxes Eat in the Wild and in Residential Homes?


In my childhood, I adopted a puppy that changed my life and attitude towards animals—I have since become a lifelong animal lover.

Fennec foxes are cute but cunning. They mostly thrive in the wild, but they can also be kept as pets. But like any animal, make sure that you feed them well. Even though fennec foxes are closely related to dogs, their diet is very similar to that of a cat. So, what do fennec foxes eat on a regular basis?

Fennec foxes have long coats that are thick and soft. Their colors usually range from white to cream, and they have bushy black-tipped tails. They also have very large ears that are useful for hunting prey and dispelling heat.

The majority of fennec foxes live in the Sahara Desert in North Africa, but there are also others that can be found in Northern Morocco as well as near Nigeria, Chad, and Kuwait.

These creatures are used to desert life. They are adept at camouflage and running in the sand. They do not mind the terrain and extreme heat. In fact, they are able to survive without drinking water for long periods. They get most of their water supply from the food that they eat. Speaking of food, what do fennec foxes eat? In general, fennec foxes can eat the following:

What Do Fennec Foxes Eat?

ProteinsVegetables and RootsFruitsCommercial Food Products

Insects

Anything except leafy greens and carrots

Berries

Cat food

Rodents

Anything except grapes

Vitamins and supplements

Reptiles

Pasteurized milk

Birds

Eggs

All seafood except tuna

Outdoor Fennec Foxes vs. Indoor Fennec Foxes

Fennec foxes are small. Some of them are even smaller than cats. Hence, it is possible to keep them as pets. In fact, domesticating them can increase their lifespan. Indoor fennec foxes may live up to fourteen years, while those left out in the wild may only live up to ten years.

Fennec foxes that are in the wild mostly survive on insects and other animals, such as beetles, lizards, birds, rodents, and reptiles. They also eat bird eggs. At times, they scavenge for roots and fruits. They need protein to stay active. They also get leafy nutrition by eating animals that consume plants.

Fennec foxes are actually part of the canine family. Nonetheless, their diet is similar to that of a feline. So, if you get a fennec fox for a pet, you have to give it lots of protein. Keep in mind that these creatures cannot digest fiber properly. Refrain from giving them human food such as oats. You should also not give them carrots, grains, and corns.

As much as possible, you should give it meats and insects. Stay as close to the wild fennec fox diet as possible. Otherwise, your fennec fox may develop liver disease or cardiomyopathy.

You should also give your pet raw meat. According to a study conducted by Dr. Francis Pottinger, cats on raw diets were generally healthier than cats on cooked diets. In fact, those that were given cooked foods developed heart problems, infections, allergies, arthritis, and neurological diseases.

So, in order to play safe, you should only give raw meats to your fennec fox. Nonetheless, you may give it cooked chicken and seafood. You can mix these cooked meats with its usual meals.

You can give it dozens of crickets, mealworms, silkworms, and other types of insects along with their eggs. You can also feed it some mice or raw meat. In addition, you can give it some commercial food, particularly cat food. Just make sure that such food contains lots of meat products and taurine.

To ensure that your fennec fox gets sufficient amounts of taurine, you can give it taurine capsules. You can mix the supplements with its diet of vegetables and meats. Foxes also need Vionate, which is a type of vitamin. You can give this to your pet twice per week.

Aside from meats, you can also give your fennec fox vegetables, such as broccoli and tomatoes. You can either feed it frozen or fresh vegetables. You can also give it fruits and berries. Cherries and cranberries, in particular, are recommended because they can help neutralize urine odor. After all, they do eat vegetables, fruits, and roots in the wild.

Even though fennec foxes are able to survive for long periods of time without drinking water, you should make sure that your pet has access to a water supply. After all, it lives inside your home, not outside in the wild. The domesticated fennec fox diet should mimic the natural diets of these animals as much as possible.

Fennec foxes that thrive in the desert stay hydrated by retaining moisture from the dew that accumulates in their burrows and from their food. Make sure that your pet drinks clean and fresh water. You can train it to drink from a ceramic dish or a water bottle designed for big rabbits.

Ideal Pet Food Brands for Your Fennec Fox

If you give commercial food to your fennec fox, make sure that you rotate the meats. Give your pet raw, dry, and canned food. Here are some of the cat food brands that you can buy:

  1. Prairie (Nature’s Variety): It is available in canned, frozen raw, and dried varieties. It is rich in taurine and has very little grains.
  2. Wellness: It has a special formula that contains 2% taurine and 8% fat. Its main ingredients are salmon, herring meal, deboned turkey, menhaden fishmeal, and salmon meal. It does not have any artificial preservatives.
  3. Mazuri Wild Feline: It is rich in taurine, making it ideal for fennec foxes.
  4. Azmira: It contains natural ingredients that are good for fennec foxes.

Recommended Foods for Fennec Foxes

By this time, you already have an idea about the diets of fennec foxes in the wild and in residential homes. Here is a list of the foods that you can give your beloved fennec fox:

  • Raw beef muscle
  • Raw beef kidney
  • Raw lamb muscle
  • Raw lamb kidney
  • Raw pork liver
  • Raw pork muscle
  • Raw chicken muscle
  • Raw oysters
  • Raw codfish
  • Raw clams
  • Cooked crab
  • Cooked tone
  • Cooked squid
  • Cooked octopus
  • Cooked clams
  • Cooked moule
  • Cooked scallops
  • Pasteurized milk

How to Raise Mealworms at Home

Since your pet fennec fox lives in an urbanized area, there is no way for it to hunt for protein outdoors. Thus, you need to give it sufficient amounts of protein to maintain its good health.

Worms are excellent protein sources for your fennec fox. They are widely available in pet stores and even easy enough to grow at home. Experts recommend feeding fennec foxes several dozens of mealworms and silkworms per day.

In order to save money on pet food and ensure that your fennec fox only eats high-quality foods, you can raise mealworms in your home. Simply get a tub and fill it with wheat germ. Your base should be thick enough to hold the mealworms.

You can feed these mealworms cornmeal, potatoes, carrots, and apples. Don't forget to give them powdered milk and monkey biscuits to increase their size and protein content. Never use hormones on your mealworms to make them bigger; this would only reduce their nutrition content.

Aside from mealworms, you can also raise black bugs. However, before you feed the adult bugs to your fennec fox, see to it that they have already laid out eggs. This way, you will not run out of black bug supply.

Just like dogs, fennec foxes are social animals. They like to play and run around. They are very active and can be trained to do certain tricks, such as fetching. To prevent your exotic pet from running away, always keep it on a leash whenever it is outside.

Of course, you need to make sure that your fennec fox has a balanced diet. Depending on its age and size, it may require a certain balance of foods. For instance, pregnant or young fennec foxes may need more protein. Overweight fennec foxes, on the other hand, may consume more vegetable matter.

Furthermore, you should take your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis to ensure that it is in top shape. Aside from nutritious foods, you should also give your fennec fox the right vitamins and supplements to prolong its lifespan.

Now that you have reached the end of this article, you have learned more about fennec foxes that you ever did before. What do fennec foxes eat when they are in the desert? What types of food can you give a fennec fox that lives in an urban home? Share your answers, along with this article, with family and friends on social media. Ask them, too, about what they think of fennec foxes and whether or not they would be willing to keep one.

Sources

  • FENNEC DIET AND HEALTH, by fennecfoxes. Retrieved on May 5, 2019.
  • Fennec fox, by dkfindout. Retrieved on May 5, 2019.
  • Fennec fox, by National Zoo. Retrieved on May 5, 2019.
  • Fennec Fox, by Wild Life Learning Center. Retrieved on May 5, 2019.

© 2019 Cool Rare Animals

Jane Joslinne on May 02, 2020:

WOW I was doing a project for school and boy did this help me!

The Logician from now on on May 05, 2019:

This is an excellent article. I plan on getting a fennec fox one day.

I’ve had red, silver, arctic, and gray foxes when I lived in NY. At that time, because there were fox farms for fur production for years in NY, all breeds of fox were classified as farm animals, so they were legal to have and no permit was required as long as you had proof they weren’t taken from the wild. I got mine from private breeders and animal dealers for privately owned zoos.

My favorite by far was the gray fox. Very catlike, actually spend a lot of time climbing trees so they loved to sit on my shoulders when I take them out to the mall or just for a walk.

Just yesterday I saw a red fox running through my neighborhood with a dead gray kitten dangling from its mouth.


Related Questions

Why do foxes in captivity live longer? Foxes in captivity get better care and have a regular diet. They get visits by a veterinarian and do not have to fight off predators like they do in the wild. Foxes in captivity have less of a chance of getting injured and dying from nature related incidents.

Why do arctic foxes live so long? Despite the harsher environments, arctic foxes have adapted extremely well. They are very opportunistic when it comes to food, oftentimes, they will feed on carcasses left behind by other animals like polar bears. They are very solitary, staying alone until mating season.

Polar bears prefer the blubber of animals and will leave behind a lot of the meat, giving an arctic fox an easy meal, that is to say, as long as there are no other predators to fend off!

Fact: The arctic fox is the only mammal native to Iceland.

Chad Fox is an author and researcher dedicated to bringing reliable information about foxes to the public. He supports animal sanctuary awareness.

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Foxes do a lot of hunting at dawn and dusk, but can hunt anytime. They hunt by stalking their live prey. They have excellent hearing and use a pouncing technique that allows them to kill the prey quickly. They listen for animals moving underground or under the snow in winter and use a combination of pouncing and digging to get to it. With larger prey such as rabbits, they stalk until they are close, but wait to attack until the rabbit turns to run away.


The deserts of North Africa get hot, and a little furball like a fennec fox could easily get overheated running around in the mid-day sun. That's why these adorable guys are nocturnal. They curl up in a nice, cool burrow to sleep the day away, and then go out hunting at night. Their thick fur helps keep them warm during cold, desert nights.

The most distinguishing feature on a fennec fox is its big, furry ears. They can be as long as 6 inches. That's about a quarter of their total body length. Their huge ears allow them to hear bugs and rodents underground for their dinner. They also provide a lot of extra body surface area to help dissipate body heat and keep the fox cool during those hot, desert days.


Fennec Fox

Weighing in at just 2 to 3 pounds, the fennec fox is the smallest canid in the world! However, their ears tell a much different story. They have the largest ear to body ratio of any canid their ears can get up to 6 inches long, which is about one third of their body length.

As a native to the Sahara desert and other areas in North Africa, the fennec fox uses its ears and other adaptations to survive the heat. Their ears help to dissipate heat and locate small prey. Their fur is thick to protect them from the sun and to insulate their bodies when temperatures drop dramatically at night. This thick fur also covers their paws which acts like snowshoes so they can walk on top of the sand.

They are omnivores that eat plants, insects, rodents, reptiles, and so on. They can go an indefinite amount of time without water because they obtain fluid from their food sources.

They are native to the Sahara Desert and other regions of North Africa, which are some of the harshest environments in the world. The average temperature is 104°F, but can drop as low as 30°F at night. The daily temperature fluctuation can be intense in the desert, so the fennec foxes need to be ready for anything.

Fennec foxes live in communities of up to 10 individuals that reside in underground den systems. However, they do form monogamous pairs that usually breed once a year, and litters average 2-4 kits. Their lifespan is about 10 years in the wild and about 13 years in managed care.

Officially, fennec foxes are currently listed as “least concern,” but this is greatly due to a data deficiency. There is a lot that is unknown about this fox due to the harsh environment, their elusive nature, and their nocturnal behavior. They do have protected status in some areas, but there are still numerous threats to their livelihood. These threats include human encroachment, climate change, disease, fur trade, and lastly, pet trade. Because of their size and appearance, there is a large market for fennec fox pets. However, it is important to keep in mind that no matter how cute they are, fennec foxes are ultimately still a wild animal.

The fennec foxes in our care

We have two fennec foxes at the Center: Daisy and Fezz. Daisy is a 1 year old fox from the St. Louis Zoo, and Fezz is a 4 year old fox from Busch Gardens. Both have incredibly vibrant personalities. Daisy is young and very energetic, while Fezz is calmer but very eager to please. Both go through training which is essential as our Ambassador Animals. This means that they accompany us on outreach programs to offsite locations, such as schools in order to enhance the experience for participants.

Adopt the fennec fox pack

Visit our Adopt page to learn how you can adopt our fennec fox pack and help contribute to the survival of this species.


Watch the video: What Do Fennecs Like to Eat? (October 2021).

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