Earlier in the month, Zoo Wroclaw happily announced a new litter of Fennec Fox kits. The Zoo was expecting only one, so when mom came out from her burrow with three kits following behind, you can guess keepers were excited!
The Zoo reports that the trio is doing well, and their antics have provided much entertainment. Wroclaw would like to use the announcement of this birth as an opportunity to remind people that, although they are popular in the exotic pet trade, Fennec Foxes should not be kept as pets. According to the Zoo, statistics show that "80% of Fennecs kept as pets die after only few months".
The Fennec Fox or Fennec (Vulpes zerda) is a small nocturnal fox found in the Sahara of North Africa. Its most distinctive feature is its unusually large ears, which also serve to dissipate heat.
The Fennec is the smallest species of canid. Its coat, ears, and kidney functions have adapted to desert environments. Their large ears and sensitive hearing allow them to hear prey moving underground. Their diet consists mainly eats insects, small mammals, and birds.
The Fennec has a life span of up to 14 years in captivity. In the wild, their main predators are the African varieties of eagle owl. Families of Fennecs dig out dens in sand for habitation and protection, which can be as large as 120 m2 (1,292 sq. ft.) and join the neighboring dens.
Fennec Foxes are social and mate for life, with each pair (or family) controlling their own territory. Sexual maturity is reached at around nine months old. In the wild, mating usually occurs between January and February for litters born between March and April. However, in captivity most litters are born later, between March and July, although births can occur year round. The species usually breeds only once each year.
Gestation is usually between 50 and 52 days but may be longer in captivity. The typical litter is between one and four kits, with weaning taking place at around 61 to 70 days. When born, the kit's ears are folded over and its eyes are closed, with the eyes opening at around ten days and the ears lifting soon afterward.