Fennec Fox

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The Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small nocturnal fox found in the Sahara of North Africa. Its most distinctive feature is unusually large ears. The name "Fennec" comes from the Arabic word for fox, and the species name zerda has a Greek origin that refers to its habitat. The Fennec is the smallest species of canid in the world; coat, ears and kidney functions have adapted to a high-temperature, low-water, desert environment. In addition, its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground.

The Fennec has a life span of up to 10 years in the wild; its main predators include the Caracal and 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 adjoin the dens of other families. Precise population figures are not known but are estimated from the frequency of sightings; these indicate that the animal is currently not threatened by extinction. Knowledge of social interactions is limited to information gathered from captive animals. The species is usually assigned to the genus Vulpes; however, this is debated due to differences between the Fennec Fox and other fox species. The Fennec's fur is prized by the indigenous peoples of North Africa, and in some parts of the world, the animal is considered an exotic pet.

Contents

Description

The Fennec Fox weighs about 1.5–3.5 lb (0.68–1.6 kg), with a body length of between 24–40 cm (9–16 in); it is around 20.3 cm (8 in) tall.[2] It is the smallest species of canid in the world.[3] The tail has a black tip and is around three quarters of the length of the head and body, while the ears can be between 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) long.[4][5] Its name comes from the Arabic word fenek, which means fox, and the species name zerda comes from the Greek word xeros which means dry, referring to the fox's habitat.[6]

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