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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Fennec

The fennec is a small fox found in the Sahara Desert of North Africa (excluding the coast) that has distinctive oversized ears.

Description

The fennec is the smallest canid, only weighing up to 3.3 lb (1.5 kg). The fox is 7.9 in (20 cm) tall at the shoulder, with a body length of up to 15.7 in (40 cm). The tail is an additional 9.8 in (25 cm) or so, and the ears can be 5.9 in (15 cm) long. The animals are often a sandy color to blend in with their desert surroundings.

Its ears, which are the largest in the canid family, serve to help dissipate heat and hunt at night. The coat can repel sunlight during the day and conserve heat at night. The soles of the feet are protected from the hot sand by thick fur.

Habits

The fennec is nocturnal. During the night, it will hunt for rodents, insects (such as locusts), lizards, and birds and bird eggs. It also eats a small lizard known as a sandfish. The fennec gets most of its water from food, but will sometimes eat berries and leaves as an additional source of water.

Fennecs live in large dens extending up to 32.8 ft 10 m), often with several foxes.

Reproduction

In the spring, after about 52 days of pregnancy, a female fennec will give birth to a litter of 2 to 5 young. The young will rely on their mother’s milk for about a month. When the litter of young is born, the female won’t allow the male to come into the den until the offspring become older.

Population

The fennec is rare and is not often seen. Humans often hunt it, even though the fox does not cause any harm to human interests.

Fennec