With it’s tiny body and huge ears, the Fennec Fox might look a more like a Pokemon than an actual fox! But the Fennec Fox is real, and it is far from an easy pet. However, if you want to learn more about keeping and caring for Fennec Foxes, then you are in the right place.
Is keeping a pet Fennec Fox legal in your state? Before you even consider them as a pet, you must look at the laws. Not every state will allow you to keep a fennec fox as a pet. Even if the state does allow you to keep one, restrictions may exist within your city, county, or even your HOA that prevent you from owning one.
Both indoor and outdoor enclosures work for fennec foxes, as long as they are spacious and you are able to continuously maintain a temperature of more then 68 degrees. It should be escape-proof since fennec foxes are both proficient climbers and diggers.
To provide your pet fennec fox with a more naturalistic, enriching setup, line the enclosure with a soft substrate such as sand to allow for digging and burrowing. Including animal safe scrub vegetation and succulents is an option as well.
Furniture and enrichment items in a fennec fox enclosure are vital for stimulating their natural behaviors and providing a comfortable and engaging habitat. Below are some things you should consider including.
Dens – Provide several dry, stable den structures, with sizes suitable for the number of foxes and potential offspring. These dens should offer a safe, cozy retreat and be accessible from both outdoor and indoor enclosures. They must have a sealable entrance to protect against cold weather.
Hollow Logs – Strategically place hollowed-out logs to provide natural shelters where foxes can hide, play, or nap in the shade.
Plants – Plant life not only offers shade but also allows foxes to engage with their environment by sniffing, scratching, and foraging.
Flat Rocks – As fennec foxes enjoy sunbathing, you can position flat rocks in unshaded areas for your pet foxes to lounge and bask in the sun.
Elevated Platforms – Elevated platforms (such as cat trees) can offer a vantage point and a place to rest. Be careful that the platforms are not too high so your pet fox does not fall and hurt themselves.
Substrate – Using sand or soft soil as substrate will encourage digging and burrowing, things that are species appropriate behavior for your pet fennec fox. Please do not use random sand and soil you find outside, this could contain harmful parasites and bacteria.
Food Puzzles – Use food puzzles or hidden treats to promote foraging behavior, which can keep them mentally stimulated and active.
Toys – Durable toys designed for dogs, cats, and even rabbits can help keep your pet fennec fox entertained.
Branches and Logs – You can sturdy branches and logs for climbing and exploration. Ensure they are safe and cannot cause injury or allow escape.
One aspect of pet fennec fox ownership people often overlook is diet. Fennec Foxes are not domestic animals, and thus require a diet that cannot be found in your average pet store.
Fennec foxes can be fed commercially manufactured diets that are formulated for exotic dogs and cats. These can include dry, canned, or raw/frozen options. Such diets are convenient as they are designed to meet the nutritional needs of small carnivores and typically include all the essential vitamins and minerals. The recommended proportion of these commercial foods in the diet should be about 30% to 50% by weight, with at least half being dry food. It’s important to ensure that these commercial diets are “nutritionally complete,” meaning they don’t require additional supplements. Mazuri and ZuPreem are two brands we have used personally and recommend.
In the wild, fennec foxes may consume plants, which provide them with additional nutrients and fiber. In captivity, their diet can include a variety of fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. However, these should be limited to 10% to 20% of the total diet by weight to avoid diluting the concentration of essential nutrients.
Whole prey items, including vertebrates like rats, mice, and chicks, as well as invertebrates like insects, can be part of your fennec fox’s diet. These items not only provide nutritional variety but also allows your pet fox to engage in natural feeding behaviors.
Here are some of the nutritional requirements for pet your fennec fox’s diet:
Specific numbers can be found here
Before you get a pet fennec fox, you must ensure you have an exotic pet veterinarian on board willing to see one. Fennec foxes need specific vet care, and most veterinarians who specialize in domestic animals will see a fennec fox, nor will most exotic pet vets. Do your research, and find a vet who specializes in zoological medicine and has experience with fennec foxes.
Since pet fennec foxes are still wild animals, they are experts at hiding their illnesses until it’s too late. Because of this, it is also important to find more than one vet if possible. This will ensure one is reachable when you need them most. If you start young and make the vet visits a positive experience with your pet fox, it will make visits safer and more bearable for everyone involved.
Spaying or neutering your pet fennec fox is highly recommended. This cuts down on hormonal aggression and excessive spraying. Fixing your fennec can be done at six months. However, these behaviors will not stop entirely as this is still a wild animal and behaviors like territory marking should still be expected.
Fennec Foxes should be vaccinated at 6-9 weeks for canine distemper with a Recombinant canary pox vectored vaccine and receive their boosters as needed. Like grey foxes, normal distemper vaccines can kill your fennec fox, so they should only use canarypox vectored vaccines such as the one from Merial.
Your fennec fox should also be vaccinated for canine parvovirus at 6-9 weeks with a killed vaccine and receive all needed boosters.
Finally, at 16 weeks, your pet fennec fox should receive a killed rabies vaccine. Depending on which vaccine it receives, your fox will need to receive another rabies vaccine every one or three years.
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Dempsey, J. L., Hanna, S. J., Asa, C. S., & Bauman, K. L. (2009). Nutrition and Behavior of Fennec Foxes (Vulpes zerda). Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, 12(2), 299–312. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cvex.2009.01.004
Fowler, M. E., R Eric Miller, Lamberski, N., & Calle, P. P. (2019). Fowler’s Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine: Current Therapy. Volume 9. Elsevier.
McRee, A. (2014, December 10). Basic Information Sheet: Fennec Fox. LafeberVet. https://lafeber.com/vet/basic-information-sheet-fennec-fox/
Tamukai, K., Minami, S., Kurihara, R., Shimoda, H., Mitsui, I., Maeda, K., & Une, Y. (2020). Molecular evidence for vaccine-induced canine distemper virus and canine adenovirus 2 coinfection in a fennec fox. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 32(4), 598–603. https://doi.org/10.1177/1040638720934809