There is no denying it, the fennec fox with its oversized ears is an absolutely adorable creature, but do they make good pets? Today our Mooresville vets look at the challenges of owning a fennec fox as a pet.
Is it legal to own a fennec fox as a pet?
Before you can even consider owning a fennec fox as a pet it's important to research whether they are legal to own as pets in your state, county and in your city.
Many states have some form of restricting legislation on exotic pets such as fennec foxes, ranging from permit requirements to outright bans on ownership. It's best to be sure about the laws in your area before investing in this beautiful animal.
Do Fennec foxes make good pets?
So, legal stuff aside...does a fennec fox make a good pet? Well, the answer to that question depends on what your definition of a good pet is. Here is a little about what owning a fennec fox as a pet is like.
Characteristics of a Fennec Fox
Fennecs bred as pets are high-energy nocturnal animals that can be flighty and skittish. Loud sudden noises can put them on high alert and make fennecs extremely nervous and jumpy.
While these lovely animals look like cute cuddly dogs, that couldn't be further from the truth. Fennecs typically do not enjoy being cuddled, or even handled by their owners.
Fennecs are cautious animals by nature and prefer to run from an enemy rather than fight, nonetheless, they are prone to biting when scared or nervous.
If you want to allow your pet some freedom to roam around your house on occasion, it's also important to note that unneutered males will mark their territory with urine.
Exercise is essential for these energetic little animals. Allowing your fennec space to play in your home will be key to keeping a fennec as an indoor pet. Indoor play can be high spirited and can result in broken items. Be sure to put away anything breakable that your fennec can reach. Given time and patience, fennecs can be trained to walk outdoors on leash.
In warmer climates, a large outdoor enclosure can be an ideal way to both house your fennec and provide room for exercise. An outdoor enclosure should include plenty of room to run and play as well as logs to climb and places to hide. If you have a well-fenced backyard (5 - 6 feet high with no gap at the bottom) you could allow your fennec to run freely with vigilant supervision.
- Note: If you allow your fennec out in the backyard keep in mind they are capable of digging very deep holes and can easily tunnel out of your yard within a very brief period of time. Fennecs are also agile climbers and capable of a quick escape over the top of most fences. Keeping your fennec on a harness and leash outdoors may be the best way to prevent escape.
Vocalizations - Sounds of the Fennec Fox
When frightened or upset fennecs can become very loud, letting out high-pitched screeching sounds that may not be well tolerated by people looking for a quiet pet. From screaming and screeching to cooing and more, fennecs are very vocal animals even when they are content.
What sort of enclosure do fennecs need?
Whether you plan to keep your fennec fox indoors or out, it is essential to provide your pet with a secure space with plenty of room for exercise.
Fennecs are a dessert animal and as such need to be kept warm. While a large outdoor enclosure can be ideal, fennecs should only be kept outdoors in areas that do not go below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Outdoor enclosures must be designed to prevent your pet from digging their way out of the bottom, or climbing over the top. Space to run, play and hide should all be part of the outdoor enclosure you create for your fennec fox.
Fennecs should not be caged indoors all day since they require large amounts of exercise. To keep your fennec housed indoors you will need a large enclosure for times when your pet cannot be supervised. You can create a larger sized cage by joining multiple ferret cages together to create multilayers or a long play area. When your fennec is out of the cage, you will need to be tolerant of your pet jumping on furniture and possibly knocking things over.
Fennecs can, in some cases be taught to use a litter box through positive reinforcement training, involving lots of treats and encouragement.
How much does a fennec fox cost?
If you decide that you are up for the challenge of owning a fennec fox as a pet you can expect to pay between $2500 - $3500 (plus shipping if you do not live near a breeder). Be sure to check out the breeder to be sure that they are raising their animals ethically, and that the animals are in good health and well cared for.
Do all vets care for fennecs?
No, not all vets can offer veterinary care for fennec foxes. Most vets care for standard companion animals such as cats and dogs. If you are considering getting any exotic animal as a pet be sure to check that you live near a vet that cares for exotic companion animals. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to know where to turn when your fennec needs veterinary care.