Can You, and Should You, Keep a Fennec Fox as a Pet?

fennec-fox-as-a-pet

When it comes to exotic animals that people want to adopt, there are countless different ones that people might go for. Some people will opt for aquatic animals, while others will go for rodents. There are some people who will go even farther than adopting an animal that simply isn’t a cat, dog, or fish, and may take in an animal that historically isn’t domesticated.

A good example of this is the fennec fox. These are the smallest foxes of their family and they have ears that are half the size of their bodies, giving them an appearance that just about anyone can love. As such, people want to adopt this animal for their appearance without realizing all of the trouble that can come from adopting a wild animal such as this.

If you are planning on adopting an exotic animal, it is crucial that you do your research. There is a lot of research involved in making certain of this decision and it will take a lot of time and dedication to make sure that you are ready, but this kind of work is only the beginning of owning an exotic, wild animal.

Two Things to Note

Before you even begin considering these animals as pets, there are two things that you need to do. First, you need to make sure that it is legal in your area to own such a pet. There are quite a few states that do not allow for the adoption of animals such as the fennec fox, which would certainly mean that you would not be able to keep a fennec fox as a pet. Different states have different regulations on the adoption of animals that are as exotic as the fennec fox is.

Another thing to note is that you absolutely must make sure that you have a vet that you can take the fox to in a time of emergency. Not every vet, especially vets who deal with cats and dogs, is going to have the expertise to feel comfortable working on a fox. While they may seem canine in nature, foxes have a different system and biology than dogs, requiring specialized training.

Make sure that there is a vet in your area who feels comfortable not only treating foxes, but fennec foxes specifically. These are the smallest foxes of their species, often weighing less than five pounds. They need specialized care, and if you do not have someone who can provide this kind of care for your fox in a time of emergency, then you should not adopt one.

Understanding the Issues with Non-Domesticated Animals

Another very important concept to keep in mind is that fennec foxes have no domestication history. They can absolutely learn to love you and play with you, but it is going to take a lot more work and dedication to making sure that you can train them. They do not have a history of being trained by people and working with them, so they are likely to be slow to pick up on training methods, if they are able to at all.

This means that while you may be able to teach a fennec fox certain concepts such as using puppy pads for elimination, you may not be able to teach it other things that are important for it to know, such as going into its crate at night so it doesn’t cause a ruckus or not lashing out at people when it is scared. Additionally, fennec foxes are loud and yippy. You need to be prepared for this, as they cannot be trained not to make this much noise.

For example, your fennec fox may not trust another person coming to pet it. Rather than walking away or being obedient as dogs are, it is far more likely to lash out, bite, claw, or urinate. While fennec foxes are small and cannot do a lot of damage, this is the kind of interaction and behavior you are going to be dealing with when you take one in as a pet. These are risks you must be willing to take when adopting an animal that is not domesticated.

What Do They Need?

Now that you know about some of the risks and requirements for owning a fennec fox, you need to make sure that you can supply what fennec foxes need. They are active animals that are omnivores. They need a lot of room to run around in and they are going to knock things over and tear up walls and flooring. It is often recommended that you give them a separate room of the house that they can call their territory, with lining and coverings on the floor to prevent lasting damage.

They also need to be crated at night. They can be incredibly active at night, causing trouble and chaos. While you might be inclined to let this happen, it can be dangerous for both your house and the animal to let this happen. You should have a large dog crate or a large ferret enclosure that they can rest in at night.

You also need to be able to provide for their diet. You cannot, or should not, feed them exclusively cat or dog food as they have different biological needs than dogs and cats, since they are foxes. You can have a baseline of extremely high-quality dog food, since they do have some of the same nutritional requirements, but you need to add fresh animals, fruit, or vegetables for this as well.

Can You Afford a Fennec?

Another very important thing to consider is that fennec foxes, being exotic animals, are far from being inexpensive. Most kits that are sold by reputable breeders and handlers are going to be in the several-thousand dollar range. Anything less than this and you will want to take a hard look at the reliability and certification of the breeder. On top of this, they are very social animals, so it is recommended that you adopt more than one. This alone can cost more than a car.

In addition, you need to provide a room enclosure for them, and some people recommend an outdoor enclosure if you are unable to walk them on a leash to let them get their energy out. This is a whole room dedicated to your fennecs, including a lot of blankets, a large crate, coverings for the floor, and toys. Fennec foxes are not inexpensive and their upkeep is a fair amount of money too. This is something you need to consider if you are thinking of getting one, as you need to be able to financially provide for one.

The Bottom Line

Fennec foxes are not beginner pets. They are not animals that should be adopted on a whim. They need dedicated care, attention, and environments. They need specialized vet care and they may not even be legal to own in your state. They are expensive and hard to find reliable and certified breeders for. If you are willing to face all of these facts head-on and give your fennec fox the time that it will require, then they can make lovely pets.

Some people think that you can treat fennec foxes like dogs and this is far from the truth. Fennec foxes are, well, foxes, and should not be treated as dogs. They are not accustomed to human interaction and will likely be extremely skittish until they have warmed up to you. They are hard to housetrain and you should be prepared for a lot of marking and urination. These are all things to consider.

If you are willing to dedicate yourself to this kind of care for the sake of having your favorite animal as your own, then they can be rewarding and adorable pets to have.