04 July, 2007

The Desert Fox

Desert Fox (Fennec Fox)
Recognizable by their very large ears which are very useful in helpful radiating body heat and helping them keep cool; and in locating prey and avoiding danger - the fennec fox is the smallest of foxes and the dog family. It is a native of the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa (Morocco to Egypt, Niger, Sudan etc.), the Sinai Desert and even some parts of the Arabian Peninsular. Adults weigh about four pounds (about two kilograms) and are nocturnal.

Very attractive. One of the smartest animals on Earth.  Extremely intelligent, patient and calculating. And they have extraordinary hearing capabilities. The desert fox survives in one of the harshest places in the world; they are adapted for that. The ears, the long thick hair, the hairy feet - all these help the fox survive well in the extreme temperatures of the desert, which can be very hot during the day and extremely cold at night.

They live in underground dens; usually in communities of about ten. They mate for life. They can live for about ten to twelve years in captivity. Females have a gestation period of 50-53 days, after which they give birth to 3-6 cubs, which weigh 50g. Incredibly, they can live for long in the desert without water; this is due to their special kidneys which are adapted for this; they also use dew that they find while burrowing, and fluid from the food they eat.

Due to this adorable creatures being relentlessly hunted by local inhabitants (for their skins) and for sale to pet hunters, the numbers of wild desert foxes have been greatly reduced; in the wild, they are a very rare site now. The desert fox is now an endangered species and are listed in the IUCN's red list.

More Information: 
The Living Desert, Arkive, National Geographic, Enchanted Learning, BBC

Image: Google Images

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