These desert-dwelling foxes are superbly adapted to living in their particularly harsh environment. They are the smallest of all canids, with disproportionately large ears. They are able to dig very quickly to catch any fast-moving prey living in the sand.
The fennec fox is a small cream-coloured fox with short legs, huge ears, a small pointed muzzle and a black-tipped tail.
Fennec foxes communicate using a variety of calls, including growls and barks, but they also have a distinctive purr, rather like a cat. They normally live in groups of up to 10 individuals, and are highly territorial by nature, marking their area with urine. They inhabit underground dens, where the young are born. The cubs start to emerge above ground at about a month old.
Unlike other wild canids, fennec foxes can produce two litters each year.VITAL STATISTICS
Distribution: Restricted largely to the Sahara region of North Africa, occurring in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Sudan. Also ranges northeast of the Red Sea.
Habitat: Sandy deserts.
Weight: 1 - 1.6 kg (2 - 3 lb); males slightly larger.
Length: 43 - 71cm (17 - 28 in); may stand only 20 cm (8 in) tall.
Maturity: 6 - 11 months.
Gestation Period: 50 - 52 days; weaning occurs at 8 weeks.
Breeding: 2 - 5.
Food: Omnivorous, hunting rodents, rabbits, small birds and lizards, as well as invertebrates; also eats fruit.
Lifespan: Typically 9 - 11 years, but up to 16 years in captivity.
The ears are much larger than the head, measuring up to 15cm (6in).
The muzzle is short, exceedingly narrow and pointed.
Its sandy colour helps the fennec to blend into a landscape where there is little natural cover.
The paws are covered with fur, helping these foxes to walk on sand without burning the skin.
A female will not allow a male dose to her cubs.
The large surface area of the ears helps dissipate heat from the body. Fennec foxes also keep cool by panting.