Desert fox fenech


The size of the fenek is no larger than a regular cat or a small dog. The body length is an average of 35 centimeters, the tail length is 30 centimeters, the height of the animals is up to 25 centimeters, and the weight is only 1.5 kilograms! The average lifespan of a fenek is 12 years.

The fox fenek has a small pointed face, large eyes and small teeth. A characteristic feature of these chanterelles, due to which it is difficult to confuse them with other animals of the fox genus, are the ears of a fenech. They reach 15 centimeters in length, and with small head sizes look quite disproportionately. Such large ears are necessary for an animal not only so that it can hear the slightest rustling near, but also to cool the body in a hot climate.

The body of the desert fox fenek is adapted to high temperatures. She has a pubescent foot, which allows her to quietly move on the hot sand. Her coat is thick and soft, light red color. The little fox fenek differs from the adult individual in white color, which with age acquires red shades.

Eared fenech can jump almost 80 centimeters in height and 1 meter in length

Where does fox fenech live?

Fenech lives in the deserts of North Africa. The animals live in small groups, but they go hunting separately, each by itself. In the wild, Fennech chooses to live in places close to grass thickets or small bushes; in their absence, it can also settle in caves and crevices. But most often animals dig holes with a complex system of moves that have 2-3 exits. For one night, they are able to dig a hole more than 5 meters deep.

What does Fenech eat?

The fox feeds the fox on food, pulling it out of the sand. Most of the animal's diet consists of small birds and reptiles, as well as insects (most often locusts). The desert fox does not need a watering place, because during evolution it has adapted so well to the hot and dry desert climate that it can do without water for a long time, getting liquid from the food eaten - from leaves, fruits or roots of plants, from meat.

Fox fenech at home.

Due to its appearance, the little fox fenech has recently become a popular exotic pet. But, home fox fenech - not the easiest in terms of keeping pet. First, the desert fox is a night animal and can cause some inconvenience to its owners, making it difficult to sleep. Secondly, Fenek need training, otherwise there may be problems with obedience. They are quite difficult to accustom to the tray, and the smell of these chanterelles is extremely sharp and unpleasant.

Thirdly, for keeping a fox fennec at home you will need a large cage or even a separate room in the apartment. The floor in such a room must be completely covered with sand so that the desert fox has the opportunity to dig a hole for itself. You should also take care of heating, as the Fenek fox does not tolerate low temperatures and is highly susceptible to colds, which often die.

It is worth noting that few veterinarians will be able to advise you about the health of your pet, since this is a rather unusual patient for veterinary clinics. In addition, we must not forget that the fenech is a wild animal and you should not start it if there are small children at home. Other pets can provoke aggression in a fox, but, nevertheless, Fenek gets along well with cats, and they even play together.

Poachers regularly catch these animals for the sake of luxury fur or selling as pets. For this reason, the fennec fox is listed in the Red Book.


Desert fox fenek perfectly adapted for living in the desert. In order to walk on the sand without fear of getting burned, the feet of her paws are overgrown with fur. The fur has a reddish-yellow color on the back and white on the tummy. This allows you to mask among the dull and monotonous painted desert landscape. Ears, like locators, make it possible to hear the rustle of even the smallest vertebrate or insect, which the desert fox eats, although it does not squeeze on the roots and fruits of plants, eggs, carrion as food. In addition, these organs of hearing help to establish thermoregulation in extremely hot animal living conditions.

Fox song

In the desert, you can often hear the sounds that make these animals. And they are very diverse. Sometimes barking, howling, whining, growling, and sometimes something like crying or screeching can be heard. Fenki repeat their “songs” many times. Unlike other members of the fox genus, these individuals do not live alone, but in groups that include a married couple and its young ones of different ages. They dig holes in the sand with a lot of secret passages. Looking at the charming Fuzzies, it is difficult to say that they protect their territory very sternly and are ready to defend it in battle. So that no one doubts that this is their plot, these animals mark it with feces and urine. Most feces left dominant male.

Comfortable at night

On the surface, the desert fox fenek is kept in the shadow of shrubs or grass thickets. But they go out of the holes infrequently. Mostly hide from the bright sun and walk only in the twilight. To catch prey, these babies are able to perfectly jump in height and length. In addition, the desert fox is a very intelligent animal. For example, in order to break an egg with a strong shell, which cannot be nibbled, the fenech quickly rolls it onto a stone, on which it breaks. Interestingly, these chanterelles play different games with each other. It is very interesting to watch them, as they often invent something new.

Fluffy crumbs

The adult fox is extremely sweet, and what can we say about her cubs! These babies, whose cuteness is just limitless, are born in March-April, after the mating season, which begins in January, ends. Pregnancy at Fenekov lasts 50 days. Tiny foxes weigh only 50 grams when they are born. Mom does not leave the burrow until they open their eyes, all this time the male is feeding the family, which is temporarily not allowed to the children. When the babies turn 5 weeks old, they begin to leave the den, and in 3 months they travel long distances. These nimble little animals are almost not afraid of anyone. They are able to sneak away from both the Caracal and the owl, who wish to catch them. But man turns out to be more cunning than a beast.

Affectionate Pets

Desert fox fenech as a pet, of course, very nice. But often the owners forget that this is the creation of wildlife. And although it can be tamed, he needs to create living conditions close to nature, because the instincts, even next to a person, do not disappear from Fenek. As a home, a fox needs a hole, and the temperature of the air in the room should be high, as the fenech is used to living in a hot desert. Those who decided to buy a “living toy” should remember that it is very expensive (the minimum price today is 65,000-70,000 rubles) and requires considerable care. In good hands, the animal will live, as in nature, about 12 years. These chanterelles are attached to their owner, affectionate and playful. Feed them with meat, eggs, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. You can also give grain or fish.

Content difficulties

The owner must know that the desert fox is asleep during the day, and at night begins to lead an active lifestyle. If it is not kept in an open-air cage, but simply in a room, then all the things that are there will be ruined, as the fenech will gnaw everything, try to dig holes, tear up the upholstery of the sofa and chairs. Attempts to crack electrical wires are especially dangerous for foxes. It is necessary to keep the pet warm, because, having caught a cold, the desert fox dies, and it is not possible to cure it.

But is it worth starting a “living toy” for your own entertainment? Perhaps it is better to leave desert chanterelles in a distant desert, next to his own family?

What does the chanterelle fenech look like?

Fenech is the smallest member of the fox genus. The size of an adult individual with a long (up to 30 cm) fluffy tail is no more than 70 cm, the height at the withers is 18-20 cm. At the same time, the animal weighs only about one and a half kilograms.

But not with the size, but with its ears it amazes the fenech at the first glance at it. These disproportionately huge ears (up to 15 cm) on a small head, big shiny eyes and a sharp, thin muzzle, seated with a long black mustache, give the whole chanterelle an unusually strange look. The ears are so mobile, they take on such diverse forms that with each new position it seems that you see a new beast in front of you. Without its amazing ears, the fenech would probably lose half of its charm. The ears of a miniature fox, hearing the faint rustle of a bird or insect at a distant distance, cannot endure harsh sounds.

Since Fenek has no sweat glands and cannot breathe intermittently like a dog, he needs to somehow cool the body. And for this is the vast surface of the ears. Since the animal does not sweat, it does not give out a drop of precious moisture. Thus he manages to be content with the liquid contained in the food. But in places where there are watering places, he drinks like other animals.

An interesting fact: many desert inhabitants have large ears, for example, a dune cat, an eared hedgehog or a black-tailed hare. Disproportionately large ears protect animals from overheating.

All other parts of the fenek body are very beautiful and proportionate. Thin, like all animals of the desert, the legs of the animal will stand up for themselves and compete in the race with the fastest animals. Even the Egyptian jerboa, despite all its speed, often falls on the sharp teeth of a small predator. And this applies equally to his ability to sneak up, and to the speed of his movements. The vast expanses of the desert, like the paucity of its plant and animal life, require good, tireless legs. And especially such legs are necessary for predators! They need not only to run around huge spaces every time, but to be able to catch up with their prey. And the legs of fenek enable it to exist and multiply in sandy deserts. Feet of chanterelles are covered with wool, which allows it to move silently along hot sand.

A rather thick, at first glance, body is actually very small and light. It seems so only because of the long, thick coat of light sand color. On the bright face stand out the eyes and nose of black.

The tail of a fenek, no less fluffy than the tail of our common fox, serves as a good decoration for the whole animal figure.

Lifestyle miniature chanterelles in nature

In the deserts, Fenech tries to keep to thickets of grass and other low-growing vegetation. He lives in holes. The place for them is chosen where the roots of the plants bind the sandy soil. Here the animal digs long strokes in various directions. In the middle of these crossing moves, he makes himself a lair. The animal loves comfort and warmth, and therefore it lines its lair with dry herbs, hair and even feathers. In such a hole, he is safe from his enemies.

Fox Fenech, like most other inhabitants of the desert, prefers cool heat. He spends the whole day in his nest, and only in exceptional cases, leaves the hole before dusk. At the time of the scorching heat, it is stuffy even underground. Dhota from the hot sand penetrates and there. Looking forward to Fenech, when the dazzling brilliance of the sun, reflected in millions of sparkles in the grains of sand, will be replaced by the same sparkles in the dark blue sky of the south. By night, the heat is replaced by coolness, and sometimes very significant. Then, somewhere in the silent desert, silent animal life awakens. Chanterelles look out of their minks, move their ears, sniff the air, and little by little lean out of the hole: it's time to go hunting.

How does the fenech hunt?

Although desert chanterelles live in families, they, like their kin, prefer to hunt alone. During the hunt, the animal relies entirely on its hearing, sight and smell. The same feelings serve as a feneku for warning about danger.

Our common fox, polar fox or arctic fox, Corsac fox of the Asian steppes, gray American fox, wide-bearing fox of southern Africa — they all have almost identical habits. In most cases, hunting foxes comes down to finding prey by smell and then hiding it.

And the sharpness of hearing, sight and sense of smell in fenek allow him to hunt not only birds, animals, but even insects. His inaudible crouching tread allows him to catch the most distant, quietest sounds on the move. If some fluctuation of air got into his ears, they expand towards noise. The desert fox stops momentarily and then begins to approach even more carefully in the direction of the noise. Her eyes penetrate the thick darkness of the desert. From a distance, she may examine a sleeping speck (steppe pigeon), a lark, or even a thick locust. He eats her. True with less pleasure than a bird or animal, but still will not pass by, if you hear its rustling. In the desert you have to put up with everything, there is a lot of sand, stones and heat in it, but not food and drink.

With all the tirelessness of fenek, with all the sharpness of his feelings, the vast space in which the rare animal kingdom of the desert is scattered creates great difficulties for the animal. In the Sahara, you can go whole hours, whole days and not meet a single bird. And this rarity of the population serves as the best defense against enemies. It is not so easy and not so often that a fenek manages to feast on the hot blood of speckles or larks. But the butterflies for fenek are desirable prey. If the animal sniffs with its nose that it has crossed the trail of a speck, then immediately sniff out the whole place and follow the delicate smell that remained during the day's walking of this bird. There is nothing to distract the attention of this amazing snooper! The desert fox will stubbornly follow the footsteps of a speckled right up to his overnight stay or the place from which he flew away. Often there is such a failure. But she does not discourage fenek. It happens that during these searches the wind will carry the smell of sleeping near the sand, and then the same nose of the animal will lead directly to the desired prey. By smell, a desert fox not only searches for speckles, but even desert larks and chekas. It happens that these little birds fall on the teeth of a fenech. They fall not only by smell, but sometimes also by the noise they make in their sleep when they change their position or by involuntarily escaping shout, song, flapping of wings. Once any noise from the movement of the bird fell into the huge ears of fenek - the bird died.

Fenech lowers his body to the ground and will slowly, for a long time, sneak on the noise. His eyes from afar will notice somewhere under the bush a tiny little figure of a bird, which, unaware of the danger, continues to sleep peacefully. Fenech will select the closest bush or dimple to grab his victim in the teeth with one leap. But this method of hiding prey he applies to sleeping birds. He hunts jerboas and voles differently. Here he not only hides, but also pursues. The Sahara vole and the jerboa, like the fenek, are nocturnal animals. They also have keen ears and keen eyes. It is not always the animal can take them by surprise. However, the chanterelle often catches the jerboa, despite its amazing jumps. The whole matter of the jerboa spoils his hare skill to jump in different directions to listen to the enemy. But such a reception with Fenek does a disservice to the jerboa. The desert fox is closely watching the jumps and runs straight to the place where the jerboa falls. From indiscriminate jumps and fear, the jerboa soon gets tired and becomes prey to the less agile but more cunning fenek.

Fenech is much easier to deal with voles. They have one salvation: to hide under the roots or get into a burrow. But it saves a little from the persevering pursuer. The animal digs up shallow minks, and a small vole falls into his stomach.

Fenk family life

Foxes are social animals and live in family groups of ten individuals in branched burrows. Clans, as a rule, consist of one married couple, their immature offspring, and sometimes several older children. It happens that several families live in the same den.

Desert chanterelles breed once a year. Pregnancy lasts about two months, and in March-April from two to six babies are born. Newborns weigh only about 50 grams, their body is covered with a light white fuzz. While the female feeds offspring, the male brings her food. For two or three months, babies eat mother's milk, but starting from the fourth week of life, they begin to slowly get used to solid foods. The older puppies become, the more fiercely they fight for a piece of food. Already at the end of the summer, the young ones begin to hunt alone, and by the nine months of the year they become independent. Often, young Fenes remain with their parents and help grow new offspring.

Enemies of fenek

Однако, и сам фенек иногда во время охоты становится жертвой гиен, каракалов, а иногда леопардов, шакалов и филинов. Зверек имеет единственное средство спастись от всех этих хищников: зарыться в песок, а еще лучше залезть в свою или чужую нору. Зарываться в песок свойственно многим зверькам и ящерицам пустыни, исчезает так и фенек на глазах у преследующих его врагов. Но не всегда удается ему обмануть гиен, шакалов и людей. Гиен и шакалов не обманет их чутье, и они откопают зверька. Точно так же и человеку не трудно разгрести слой песка и вынуть фенека. Much more reliable is the way to save the desert fox in its burrows, where it is safe from all its enemies, with the exception of perhaps the terrible asp - a snake that terrifies not only animals, but also people.

Fenech hardly reacts to environmental changes and cannot adapt to other living spaces. Sand foxes do not harm people, but they have always been actively hunted and continue to hunt.

Appearance, description of fenek

This miniature animal from the family of canine Arabs called a fanak (in translation - "fox"). Fenech, which is smaller than a cat, belongs to the genus of foxes, but not all biologists recognize this relationship, recalling the differences between typical foxes and feneches.

Thus, the DNA of fenek consists of 32 pairs of chromosomes, while in other fox species it consists of 35-39 pairs. Foxes are considered loners, and Phenes live in large families. Given these characteristics, some biologists have identified eared chanterelles in a separate genus called Fennecus.

The animal weighs in the range of 1.5 kg with growth of 18-22 cm. Fluffy tail is almost equal in length to the body, reaching 30-40 cm. The auricles are so large (15 cm) that, if desired, the Fenech could hide in one of them its small, sharp little muzzle.

It is interesting! Ears suggest the animal where to rush for prey (small vertebrates and insects), and are also responsible for thermoregulation. Vessels located close to the epidermis, remove excess heat, which is vital in the desert.

The feet overgrown with wool are also adapted to the desert habitat: thanks to it, the chanterelle does not burn, running along the hot sand. The color of the fur above (fawn or reddish-giving) allows the fenech to merge with the sand dunes. The coat is abundant and soft. In young fur has a shade of baked milk.

The teeth, including the canines, are small in fenek. The eyes, vibrissae, and nose are painted black. Like the rest of the foxes, the fenech is deprived of sweat glands, but, like them, it has a supra-tail (violet) gland at the tip of the tail, which is responsible for the sharp smell when frightened.

Habitat in the wild

Fenech learned to live in semi-deserts and deserts, but he is not able to do without stunted vegetation. Grass thickets and shrubs provide fox with shelter from enemies, a temporary haven for rest, and a place under the den.

Sharp teeth help animals dig out their food from the ground / sand. Provisions for Phenacians are:

  • small birds,
  • reptiles,
  • rodents,
  • locusts and other insects,
  • bird eggs,
  • spiders and centipedes.

Ears-locators catch barely audible rustle emitted by insects (even in the thickness of the sand). A victim caught far away from home is killed by fenek by biting his neck, and then he is taken to the den to be eaten. Excess food fenek lays in reserve, remembering the coordinates of the cache.

The broom has enough moisture from berries, meat and leaves: its buds are adapted to the dry climate and do not suffer without water. In the diet should always be tubers, roots and fruits that provide the animal with the daily rate of fluid. In nature, animals live 10-12 years.

Habitat geography

Fenecs inhabited the desert of North Africa: the animals can be found on a vast territory from the north of Morocco to the Arabian and Sinai Peninsulas, and in the southern part they reached Chad, Niger and Sudan.

It is interesting! It is believed that the most extensive population of mini-chanterelles lives in the central Sahara. In addition to the Phenacs, there are no carnivores that can not be thirsty for a long time and do without water sources.

Fox’s habitat is made up of both fixed sand dunes and moving dunes near the Atlantic coast (with an annual precipitation rate of 100 mm). At the southern boundary of the range, they are found near the regions where no more than 300 mm of precipitation falls annually.

Human activities in the desert zone, including the construction of housing, expelling fenek from the inhabited places, as happened in southern Morocco.

Dwarf fox lifestyle

These are public animals adapted for group life. The family usually consists of parents, their puberty and several teenagers.. The borders of their territory are marked with urine and feces of animals, and adult males do it more often and more abundantly.

Fenech adapts to the outside world through excellent sense of smell, keen hearing and excellent vision (including night vision).

Greater family cohesion is promoted by common games, the character of which depends on the season and time of day. In gaming amusements, small Phesenae exhibit outstanding dexterity and agility, jumping up to 70 cm in height and more than 1 m in length.

It is interesting! Not surprisingly, the Algerian football team is lovingly called "Les Fennecs" (Desert Fox or Fenech). In Algeria, this animal is immensely revered: even on a 1/4 dinar coin, the image of a fenek is stamped.

He has a nocturnal lifestyle and the habit of hunting alone. Fox needs a cozy place that would cover him from the scorching sun. This place becomes an extended burrow (over 6 meters), which it can effortlessly dig up during the night under the roots of bushes supporting the walls.

This structure can hardly be called a burrow, since it does not look like a simple deepening, but is made up of a multitude of cavities, tunnels and emergency exits intended for emergency evacuation of fenek during an enemy attack.

Often the burrow system is so complex that it can accommodate several family clans, without interfering with each other at all.

The main enemies of fenek

It is considered that such are desert lynxes (caracals) and owls. Witnesses of these predators for eared chanterelles have not yet been found, and this is understandable: thanks to the sensitive hearing, Fenek learns in advance about the approach of the enemy and instantly hides in his entangled burrows.

A much greater threat is borne by the Feneks, who exterminates them for beautiful fur and catches them for resale to zoos or private nurseries.

Reproduction fenek

Fertility comes at the age of 6-9 months, while the males are ready for mating earlier than the females.

In the breeding season, which usually occurs in January / February and lasts 4-6 weeks, males show increased aggressiveness, intensively “watering” their territory with urine. The gon of the Phenaeca lasts two months, and the sexual activity of the females is only two days.

The female in estrus declares its desire to mate with the movement of the tail, moving it horizontally to one side. After mating, the animals form a permanent family cell, as they relate to monogamous. Chete Fenekov relies separate plot of land.

Litter feneki bring once a year. Re-birth of puppies is possible only in case of litter death, especially in the presence of feed in large volumes.

It is interesting! Mother bears offspring from 50 to 53 days. Childbirth, which results in 2-5 babies, usually occurs in March / April.

By the time the burden is resolved, the nest in the hole is lined with feathers, grass and wool. Newborns are covered with a peach-colored weightless down, are blind, helpless, and weigh about 50 grams. At the moment of birth, the ears of the phesenes are rolled up like a dog’s puppies.

At 2 weeks of age, puppies open their eyes and tiny ears begin to puff up. From this point on, the auricles grow much faster than the rest of the body, becoming larger day by day. For a sufficiently short period, the ears become disproportionately huge mugs.

The female does not allow their father to the puppies, allowing him to only get food until they are 5-6 weeks old. At this age, they can get acquainted with their father, independently get out of the den, play near him or explore the surroundings.. Three-month puppies are already able to travel long distances. By this time, the female ceases to produce milk.

The content of fenek at home

It is often said that the fenek is the only fox squad that man has managed to tame. In fact, there is another domestic fox, obtained as a result of the breeding work of scientists of the Novosibirsk Institute of Cytology and Genetics with silver foxes.

It is interesting! The fox from the famous Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince should be recognized as the very first tame Fenek. The prototype of the cute fairy-tale character was Fenek, met by the writer in 1935 in the dunes of the Sahara.

In Russia, you can count on the fingers nurseries, breeding these ushastik. It is logical that Fenech is expensive: from 25 to 100 thousand rubles. But even the willingness to give such a sum for a strange animal does not guarantee a quick purchase: you will have to sign up and wait for many months (sometimes years) of the appearance of babies. An alternative way is to seek a private owner or go to the zoo.

Having decided to start a fenek, you are obliged to provide the necessary comfort for a stay in captivity, in other words, to create conditions that allow him to run and jump freely. Best of all, if you can allocate a separate warm room to your pet.

Care, hygiene

Fenecs are not very burdensome to care.. But like any animal with a thick coat of hair, they will require systematic combing off dying hairs, especially when shedding occurs twice in a year.

These quadrupeds hardly smell. At the moment of danger from the fox comes the musky quickly volatile "aroma." You may smell an odor from the tray if there is no filler in it. In this case, change the diaper often or wash the tray thoroughly.

It is interesting! With respect to these miniature creatures, especially in puppy age, you should exercise extreme caution: they love to run between their legs, making it quietly and unnoticeably.

You can accidentally step on a brisk fenek without waiting for its rapid movement from the far corner of the room to your feet. That is why it is so important to always control where your eared mouse is, so as not to cause serious injury to it.

Problems of keeping fenek at home

Friendship with Fenek is fraught with many pitfalls, it is better to learn about them in advance.

For contact with you or to express their emotions, the Phenes (as social animals) will use a wide range of sounds available to them, including whimpering and chirping, screams and growls, barking and whining, grumbling and howling.

Not all owners complain about the "talkativeness" of pets: apparently, there are quite a few silent people among the latter.

There are a few more details that need attention:

  • foxes require a spacious aviary, ideally a warmed balcony or room,
  • with great difficulty, the Phenicians are trained to handle the need of a tray,
  • purchase of live / freshly fed food,
  • short duration of night sleep,
  • deficiency of veterinarians specializing in wildlife.

The owners of Fenecs note the hypoallergenic nature of their pets, good domestication, but increased fearfulness from any unexpected sound.

The minus can be considered the habit of nibbling the household by the legs and sometimes very noticeably. If your quadruped is vaccinated, it can be taken on long trips, of course, along with the vaccination documents.

Food - how to feed a dwarf fox

Fenech needs high protein foods.

Some of these products must be present in the daily diet:

  • flour / mulberry worms, crickets and other insects,
  • eggs (quail and chicken),
  • mice (newborns and adults),
  • raw meat,
  • cat food elite brands (with a high content of taurine and meat).

Do not forget about the vegetarian ingredients, which can be frozen vegetables, tomatoes, broccoli and fruit (a little). Fenene does not hurt additional taurine (500 mg), which must be mixed with mealworms, vegetables, or eggs. Under the ban - all the sweets and food from your table.

Look at the contents of the tray: there you will see all undigested (and therefore unhealthy) vegetables. These are usually carrots, corn and all grains. Give cranberry or cherry baget: they can neutralize the smell of urine. And do not forget about the bowl with fresh water.

Population, population

It is known that Phenicidae are included in Appendix II of the CITES Convention, which regulates international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora.

Paradox - scientists have data on the range of populations of dwarf foxes, but still do not have accurate information about their numbers and status.