Ben Novak
April 27th, 2007

Vulpes Zerda - Fennec Fox

Classification Information


The fox is an animal so it is in the animalia domain, it is multicellular so is therefore eukarya. The phylum and class is mammalia because it is warm blooded, has fur, and bears its young internally. It falls under carnivora because it eats other animals. It is a canine so it falls under canidae for family. The genus and species are just the binomial nomenclature name or the organism. I looked at numerous places and didn't really find much on the ancestry of these foxes. They could possibly be traced back through the canine family.

Habitat and Geography

The fennec fox can be located in northern Africa and throughout the Sahara also the Sinai peninsula and Arabia. They live under brush roots and rocks. They typically will live in larger groups in their extensive tunnel systems that form under rocks and root systems. Their tunnels usually have several entrances, and are used as shelter from weather and other predators. Their burrows are usually lined with soft things such as fur and feathers. They live in the same environment as beetles, bugs, small rodents, lizards, some birds, as well as plants and bushes.


The fennec fox has four legs so it used them to move. Their vision is binocular since they are nocturnal animals Their large ears are very sensitive and can hear a small insect walking on sand. The ears themselves help to dissipate heat to keep the fox cool. The fox's feet are thickly furred both to help it go across sand without burning it, as well as to decrease the sound it makes when stalking prey. They have thick fur to insulate them at night since they are nocturnal, their fur is pale yellow which is reflective during the day to keep it cool. Its fur is also colored lightly to help it be camouflaged from predators and prey. The fennec does drink water when it can, but it also goes long periods of time without water and gets the needed moisture from food it eats.


The fennec fox hunts for its food at night. They are nocturnal because they live in such warm dry desert climates and it is cooler at night and there is more prey moving around. They quietly stalk their prey and pounce on it. They do not have a host and do not serve as a host. They eat large insects and beetles, small rodents and lizards, occasionally birds, and sometimes plants like berries and succulent leaves. They have been known to hide food for later. They have full digestive systems as well as a closed circulatory system. They ingest and break down food like other mammals.

Life History/Reproduction

Fennecs may stay together for a couple years and the gestation period is 50 days. The time of mating is during January and February, and birth is given during late winter to early spring. The first litter is usually lost, but a second litter may be produced two and half to three months later. Typically there are only two pups born but it may be up to four or five. The mother tends to the pups for about two weeks in the den. The parents both have a pretty equal role in raising the pups. They can open their eyes at about two weeks and they nurse from their mother for about a month before eating prey their parents bring back. The young can get pushy when waiting for food, but the parents give them the same treatment and may even bite them back. The young reach adult size in about nine months and sexual maturity shortly after. Once they are three months old, they will permanently move out and take advantage of favorite dens around their territory. If a den is successful for birth they will typically use it over and over for future births. It is unknown how long they live in the wild, but they typically live for about twelve years in captivity.

Interactions With Other Species

It could be considered predatory because it is a predator. It may be a food source for other predators in the desert. Fennecs woud be considered consumers and they are omnivores since they eat both plants and animals. They aren't really any specific use to humans other than they can be pets. They are not harmful to humans but are known to bite if cornered, but any animals typically will show this same behavior.

Other Interesting Facts

Like all foxes, fennecs are very quick and agile. They can jump straight up a little over two feet and four feet horizontally from a dead stand still. They use these skills in both escape from capture and to catch prey. Pups have been observed bouncing around while playing. Like other foxes, fennecs also mark territory with fecal piles and with urine. There is also a small gland on the dorsal tail surrounded with black bristles. Its function is not known though. They have many different vocalizations that are varied. Fennecs are the smallest of all foxes. They are only about eight inches tall and about fourteen inches long. Their tails are also about fourteen inches and they have ears that are about seven inches tall. They weigh two to three and a half pounds maximum. The males are bigger than the females. I chose to do this organism because its small and very interesting to me. People should find it interesting as well. They can be housepets and are easily housebroken. They are affectionate and obedient just like a dog. I also chose to do this animal because i want one as a pet. I found it very fun to research because of this. Its relatives are similar to it but larger. They are typically very curious, energetic, and playful animals. I think the foxes have around the midwest are very amusing and fun to watch. Fennecs are very good diggers. They have been known to dig twenty feet in a single night. When being chased, it almost seems to dive into the sand. Fennecs, like all canines, have no sweat glands. This is why they need all the help they can get to discipate heat. Although no one knows why, fennecs are hunted by the Sahara natives.