The Big-Eared Foxes of Africa

There are 21 types of foxes around the world. A particularly interesting one is the fennec fox.

Fennec foxes live across desert areas in North and Middle East Africa. They can be found in deserts like the Sahara and the Arabian. These foxes have a distinct diet. They feed on insects, small rodents, birds and their eggs, and plants.

Fennec foxes are rather small foxes. Their coat has a pale coloration that helps them camouflage against the sand. Their big ears make up about 20 percent of the fox’s total body surface area, and they help them detect prey from afar. Their ears are so sensitive that they can hear prey moving from underground. They have a big fluffy tail along with fully furred soles on the bottom of their paws. The fur helps to get a better grip on loose sand, preventing the fennec fox from sinking while running.

Adult fennec foxes normally weigh around 2.2 to 3.3 pounds. Their whole-body length is around 9 to 16 inches. They can live about 10 years if they’re born in captivity, or less if they’re in the wild. Fennec foxes are nocturnal animals that mainly mate around January to February, having between one to five kits in each litter. The fennec is the smallest species of canid (mammal belonging to the dog family) in the world. Their species name, Zerda, comes from the Greek word Xeros which means dry, referring to the fox’s habitat. Their name comes from the Berber word fanak, which means fox. Fennec foxes make a variety of sounds, including barking, a purring sound similar to a domestic cat’s, and a snarfle if threatened.

When cold nights come, fennec foxes have different ways to stay warm. Their long and soft fur coat insulates the fox against the cold wind. Their tail also helps them keep warm. As a protective measure against the cold, they fluff up their tail and then wrap it over their paws as if it is a scarf. This prevents them from releasing body heat through their paws. During daylight the temperature gets really hot, but the fennec has no problem handling it; their furred soles protect their pads from touching really hot surfaces. They have big pointy ears that are supplied by blood vessels that help radiate surplus body heat to keep cool in the dessert.

Fennec foxes are one of the many types of foxes around the world. They have some similarities with other foxes but their big pointy ears, small body size, and puffy tail sure makes them unique.

[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals]