Fennec FoxVulpes zerda
FamilyCanidae, the dog family.
Conservation StatusLeast concern, IUCN; not threatened.
DistributionThe arid regions of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian Peninsulas.
HabitatPrimarily sandy areas.
FactoidWhen threatened, they can leap approximately four times their body length from a standing position and burrow rapidly into the sand.
Primarily nocturnal, they live in burrows lined with soft material such as feathers and bits of fur. Fennecs are so quick and agile that they seem to disappear vertically when they dig.
The smallest, palest of all the foxes, fennecs also have the largest ears relative to body size of any canid, plus a bushy, black-tipped tail. Their fur varies from reddish cream to almost white and is very thick to keep them warm on cold nights. They have thick fur between their toes, which helps them to move quickly and quietly on sandy surfaces.
They are omnivorous, eating plant material, small rodents, birds, eggs, lizards and insects such as locusts. They drink water when it is available but can survive for long periods on the moisture obtained from their food.
They are hunted by larger predators such as jackals, wild cats, raptors and man. They often live in small groups of up to 10 burrows. Males and females may pair for several breeding seasons and both parents defend the burrow site, but only the female enters. They breed once a year in January or February with litters of 2-5 young born in March or April.