The Fennec Fox
The name fennec fox comes from the Arabic, with the 'fennec' actually meaning fox. Distinguishable due to their large ears, these foxes have hearing that is incredibly sensitive, allowing for them to locate prey. They can, in fact, even pick up on sounds of moving prey from underground. Not only are these foxes the smallest of all breeds of fox but they are also the smallest of the entire Canidae family. Found in the Sahara of North Africa the fennec foxes live in dens which they dig in the sand. These dens can be over 1,200 square feet and are adjacent to the dens of other fennec families.
Fennec Fox Families
Fennec foxes mate for life and they tend to breed once each year. During the female's pregnancy the male will provide her with food. After the gestation period, which is usually around 50 days in the wild, the male will continue bringing food until the female has stopped lactating. Weaning of the kits (of which there are usually 1-4) begins usually between 60 and 70 days. The young will remain with their family even after the next year's litter has been born, in many cases.
Predator and Prey
Prey to caracals, eagle owls, jackals, hyenas and salukis, the fennec fox is actually very hard to catch. With the ability to jump distances of four feet and heights of two feet the fennec fox is also very good at catching prey. Insects, birds, eggs and rodents are amongst the fennec's (which are nocturnal omnivores) food sources.
Human Interest in Fennec Foxes
Fennec foxes can find themselves trapped by humans. This is rarely for food consumption since their meat is considered to smell repulsive. They are, however, used for their fur in North Africa. They are also trapped for the purpose of the exotic pet trade. Young fennec foxes are often hand-reared in order for them to have the best temperament, so are thus separated from their mothers at a very young age.