If you search questions about the eating habits of Fennec Foxes, you’ll get a long list of strange results. At a glance, it would seem these creatures like to eat a lot of unusual things. If you own a Fennec fox and want to take care of it, you need to settle this question once and for all.
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Fennec Foxes: Habits and Biology
Fennec foxes are charming and intelligent. Most Fennec foxes in the world live in the wild, but they can make good pets if properly raised and trained. They are playful, can be carried like small dogs, and respond well to affection. But, as with any animal, it’s important that they receive the proper diet.
Their thick, soft coats vary from red to white, and cream colors. They have bushy black tails and large ears which are useful in hunting. If they do not receive the proper nutrition their delicate coats and pronounced ears can show the signs of malnutrition quickly. You should not depend on signs of malnutrition as an indicator. It is much better to try to avoid them.
Fennec foxes originate from the Sahara Desert, located in North Africa. They can be found in hot and dry climates in and around this region. They are well suited to life in the desert and are accustomed to getting most of their water from the food they eat.
Because food can be difficult to come by in the desert, a fennec fox can eat almost anything from bugs to fruit and even cat food.
There are a few things you should avoid such as grapes, and anything that is clearly foreign to a desert climate.
You may be amused to learn that fennec foxes can eat cat food and that they can do quite well on it. When you think about it, it really isn’t much of a surprise. Cats, after all, are scavengers and hunters who will eat just about anything they can get their paws on in the wild.
However, one word of warning to keep in mind is to avoid tuna. Tuna, these days, has a high amount of mercury in it- which is one of the most toxic things known to man. Fennec foxes can be quite sensitive to toxins like this. But if you provide them with high-quality dry or wet cat food, they should be quite happy with it.
Do Fennec Foxes Eat Dirt?
Any creature will eat dirt if it is starving and desperate for food. A fennec fox will root around in the dirt looking for bugs if they get hungry enough. Some people mistake this for eating dirt, just as they mistake similar behavior in pigs as eating mud.
If your fennec fox is well fed, he will not resort to rooting in the dirt for bugs or attempt to eat actual dirt. This behavior is a sign of either malnutrition or a neurological disorder.
What Do Fennec Foxes Like to Eat Most?
As mentioned above, the favorite foods of these curious little creatures are those that can be most readily found in the high Sahara Desert.
That is to say that they are fond of eating insects, small rodents and reptiles, birds, and eggs. They will eat fruits similar to the meat of a cactus or the bits of foliage, buds, and seeds that desert plants produce. They will also drink milk and can easily learn to enjoy cat food and dog food.
If you have a high-quality pet store near you, you may be able to obtain a very naturalistic diet for your fennec fox. If you live in some of the hotter climates of the American southwest you may be able to obtain lizards and bugs that a fennec fox would enjoy. But there are less troublesome alternatives.
Recommended Animal Food Products
- Prairie by Nature’s Valley: This is a high-quality product that comes frozen, canned, or dried. It has few grains, which you want to avoid, and is rich in valuable nutrients.
- Wellness: This special formula contains animal fat and taurine. It is made from herring, salmon, and turkey. It contains no chemical preservatives.
- Azmira: This product contains natural ingredients which are good for fennec foxes but may contain some chemical preservatives.
- Mazuri: Designed for small non-domestic cats, Mazuri contains natural ingredients which may be a good choice for fennec foxes.
Recommended Natural, Whole Foods
Just as with humans, the healthiest foods available are those which have been created by nature and are untampered with by humans. Here is a list of meat types that should be fed raw to your fennec fox.
- Beef muscle
- Beef kidney
- Lamb muscle
- Lamb kidney
- Pork liver
- Pork muscle
- Chicken muscle
Fennec foxes can eat a wide range of seafood. But the following examples should be cooked and not eaten raw.
They may also have pasteurized milk.
Food to Avoid Feeding Your Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes come from a pretty specific part of the world and have somewhat particular dietary needs. Taurine is an important nutrient that is recommended for cats, dogs, and other predatory mammals kept as pets.
The foods you want to avoid giving your fennec fox include cheap, off-the-shelf dog and cat foods with high amounts of grain and artificial preservatives. These animals can be sensitive to low-quality ingredients because they have not long been subject to domestic life, unlike dogs and cats.
Because they are nocturnal, they will tend to prefer foods made from animals that are easier to find at night such as certain insects, small rodents, and lizards.
The main foods you want to avoid giving to your fennec fox are those that have been tampered with by humans. These include fish that are prone to mercury contamination such as tuna.
Foods to avoid giving to fennec foxes
- Uncooked shellfish
- Low-quality cat & dog food
Sugar may be the most important thing to keep out of your fennec fox’s diet. Most pet owners know that candy, cake, and similar treats should never be given to their pets.
But special care must also be taken to ensure these animals never eat sugary treats unsupervised. Fennec foxes can be very sneaky, and they will become active at night when you are asleep.
Therefore, you must clean up any leftover snacks or desserts. Even a small amount of refined sugar can damage the liver, kidneys, and other vital organs.
Tips to Feed Fennec Foxes
Fennec foxes are omnivorous creatures with a long list of foods that they can eat. The best pet food will be that which is formulated for wild canines which include protein from insects, birds, and rodents.
Most fennec fox owners will offer their pets a mixture of cat food, dog food, fruit, vegetables, and so on. Perhaps the most important nutrient to make sure your fennec fox is getting is taurine. Taurine is an organic compound that is commonly found in animal tissue. In human beings, for example, taurine makes up about .1% of our total body weight.
Fennec foxes have little evolutionary experience living in captivity. Therefore, it is best to simulate their natural eating habits as much as possible.
To help ensure your fennec fox is happy and feels satisfied with its life and diet, it might be a good idea to place several food dishes around their living space, periodically moving the dish to give them the feeling of hunting and foraging. High-quality pet stores will sell live food like bugs, mice, snakes, and the like. Offering these to your fennec fox is a good way to help ensure that he is healthy, gets exercise, and enjoys his daily life.
1. How much do fennec foxes eat?
Most fennec foxes will eat about the same amount as a small dog or cat. Simply fill their food dish once a day.
2. Can a fennec fox take a vegetarian diet?
While they are omnivores, fennec foxes need to eat meat to be healthy.
3. When do fennec foxes like to eat?
When domesticated, fennec foxes will eat at most times of the day. However, their general preference is to eat at night as they are nocturnal.
4. Do fennec foxes eat snakes?
They may eat small garden snakes, but they tend to prefer smaller, less challenging prey.
5. Is dog food okay for fennec foxes?
A high-quality wild canine food with plenty of taurine is best.
6. Is cat food okay for fennec foxes?
Fennec foxes can do well on high-quality wild feline food, but wild canine food is likely to be a better fit for their dietary needs.
7. Are fennec foxes safe around children and other pets?
Some caution is required. When possible, fennec foxes kept as pets should be raised from birth and exposed to humans early. Never expose children or smaller pets to wild, untamed animals.
We’ve learned that fennec foxes are omnivorous with a preference for meat and bugs. They are nocturnal and have a wild disposition, but they can be good pets if raised from a young age and house trained. Because they are relatively new to civilization, it is best to give them as close to a natural diet as possible.