It’s dusk. A strange creature awakens from a good day’s rest. It twitches its oversized ears, eagerly listening for prey hidden deep underground. Once it senses its next meal, it scans the ground for sounds of its prey’s exact hiding spot. In a flurry of golden paws, it digs down at high speed, grabs its startled meal and gulps it down in seconds.
Ranging from Morocco in the Northwest to the Arabian and Sahara Deserts, the Fennec fox's habitat fills a 2.2 million square mile region of Africa. However, its species has become rare. In the past, hunters and fur traders in Africa hunted the miniature fox. Eventually, the Fennec fox became over-hunted to the brink of extinction. Now the fox enjoys relative peace because it is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITIES).
The Fennec fox may be as small as a Shih Tzu, but its large ears make up for about 20% of its body's surface area. Their large ears serve to detect their prey, which they scoop up from deep underground. Its ears are also richly supplied with blood vessels, which helps to release heat to regulate the fox's temperature. Its body temperature can get up to 104 degrees. That’s high compared to the average human body temperature, which is 98.6 degrees.
Its soft, dense fur provides camouflage and insulation on the cold nights, and reflects excess daytime heat. Its broad paws with furred soles repel the heat of the scorching hot sand. Its tail serves the opposite purpose, by keeping it warm on cold nights. The fox wraps its tail around its paws like a fleece scarf to keep them from freezing.
The Fennec fox is a social creature that often shares an interconnected burrow system with a dozen others living with it. The fox’s deep burrow shields it from the fierce rays of the African sun.
The Fennec fox's oversized ears assist it in finding food and keeping its body at the right temperature. A fierce hunter and a diligent burrower, the Fennec fox has adapted beautifully to its harsh desert habitat.
[Source: Wildlife Explorer]