Are Fennec Foxes Good for Kids?

Choosing the right pet to bring into your family’s home is no easy feat. With Fennec foxes being absolutely precious, many potential exotic pet owners consider whether or not this animal would make a good fit in their home. If you have children around, will a Fennec fox fit right in?

Unfortunately, while a Fennec fox is not dangerous, and they are social and high energy, a Fennec fox is not an ideal pet for families with kids. The nocturnal rhythm of this pet can result in high energy when your kids should be sleeping. Behavioral issues like shrieking could also wake your kids.

Even more, your children (especially those younger than the age of 4-years-old, could pose a threat to a small exotic animal like the Fennec fox due to their loud voices and unexpected movements and behaviors. While it is perfectly acceptable for a kid to be around a Fennec fox (and interact with it), having an exotic pet like a Fennec fox generally takes more time and flexibility than life with children can permit. Let’s take a closer look.

© Image by whywebdesign from Pixabay

Why are Fennec Foxes Not Ideal Pets for Kids?

As your children grow, they learn an incredible amount about the world around them. Perhaps in their science class they are learning about various species of animals- perhaps even animals that descend from various parts of the world. If your children have recently learned of the Fennec fox (which comes from the Saharan desert in Africa), they might be begging you to bring one into your home. But, this might not be the best idea- even if the pet is legal in your state.

Fennec foxes are not ideal pets for kids mainly because their nocturnal rhythm does not align with the standard routine of most children. Pets that are good for kids are typically good companions, playmates, or evoke responsibility for your child. Fennec foxes do none of these things as well during the day as they do at night, so it is best to avoid bringing this exotic pet into your home

Still, a family with kids can rest assured that this pet will pose no threat, it just might not be the best fit for the children and consequently for the animal itself. Finding the right fit for a pet goes both ways. If your family is not able to (happily) accommodate the animal, then the resulting actions surrounding caretaking for the animal typically follow suit- with stress and frustration.

Consequently, the animal can become neglected or not given the proper attention that it needs resulting in poor mental (and related physical) health for your pet. This can result in behavioral issues that can lead to many other problems including having to remove the pet from your home entirely. So, before you bring an exotic pet (especially a nocturnal pet) into your home, you need to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the reasons why Fennec foxes are not ideal pets for kids (even though they pose no grave harm to children and will likely enjoy interactions with your kids).

© Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Fennec Foxes are Nocturnal

When looking at how to take care of a Fennec fox (and whether or not it is the right fit for you and your family), the first thing that you will notice is that these animals are nocturnal. Fennec foxes descended from the Saharan Desert in Africa. There, they have been able to survive from the heat by burrowing deep underground while the sun is out (during the day) and coming to life at night (when the sun is down).

Because of this, even those Fennec foxes that have been rescued and bred in captivity will continue to be nocturnal animals, acting in accordance with their roots and survival instincts. While you can assist a Fennec fox to become more active during the day and more restful at night (by providing high levels of stimulation during the day to keep the pet awake), this does not get rid of the fact that this is not how the animal’s instincts are wired. 

Thus, caring for an exotic, nocturnal pet is going to look much different, especially before your animal becomes more used to your daytime schedule (assuming he or she does). Caring for a nocturnal pet means that you will need to provide enough mental and physical exercise for your pet during the night, will attend to their food and water needs (or make sure that your pet has access to it before you go to bed), and remains crated when you are unable to supervise your pet.

Where this comes into play for children is that the pet is basically hidden while they are awake and out and about at night while they are asleep. Now, if you have a large enough home that you are able to keep your children and your exotic animal separated from one another at a pretty good distance, then any minor noise coming from a Fennec fox might not wake them.

However, this is not guaranteed. Along with this, children and pets need to bond well with one another to maintain a positive relationship in the family. If our child is attempting to play with the Fennec fox off of his or her routine, then the animal could become frustrated and then act out. Either way, your children’s schedules (as well as yours) will not mix well with a nocturnal pet like the Fennec fox because they are dependent on rest (and play) at completely opposite parts of the day.

© Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo

Fennec Foxes Require Mental and Physical Stimulation

Not only are Fennec foxes nocturnal, potentially disrupting your family’s schedule and routine until you and your exotic pet have adjusted accordingly, but they require a high level of mental and physical stimulation that could become quite noisy while your kids are trying to sleep. Of course, this could disrupt your sleep as well, but choosing to disrupt your kids’ sleep, as all of us parents know, can prove much more hazardous than disrupting your own (by choice).

The high level of mental and physical stimulation required for a Fennec fox will typically be resolved by engaging in play, chasing toys around, playing with a chew toy, or engaging with its owners (or other members of its colony). 

In the wild, the Fennec fox receives this stimulation mainly from hunting its prey as well as avoiding being hunted by its predators. However, in captivity (under your ownership), the animal will receive its food and be protected from predators with the enclosure that you provide for it, so this stimulation must be supplemented in another way. 

You might think this is a perfect chance for your kids to step in and play with their new pet. While this sounds ideal in theory, in reality, it looks quite different. It means that if your Fennec fox is not satisfied with the level of physical and mental stimulation that it received, it could begin shrieking or wailing as it seeks your attention (a common behavioral issue with this animal). During the middle of the night, this could wake your children and cause chaos within your home. 

If you choose to bring a Fennec fox into your home with kids, just be sure that you can safely and securely keep your pet in an area that the rest of the house (at least where your children sleep) cannot hear the shrill barking that this pet can let out.

© Cloudtail the Snow Leopard on Flickr

Fennec Foxes can Easily Escape an Enclosure that is not Secured

Another reason that it can be difficult, and rather dangerous, to have a Fennec fox when you have kids is that these little animals are incredibly masterful with escape routes. Because of this, they require a relatively strict enclosure setup. 

This includes a covering or sharply inclined angles on the top (since the Fennec fox is well suited for climbing). This also means that you will have to place a hard surface (like wood, metal, or cement) under the enclosure so that the Fennec fox cannot burrow (up to 20ft) as it can naturally do in the wilderness.

Fennec foxes also require a high level of supervision when they are outdoors. Since they are so small (under 3lbs), and since you are placing them in an enclosure that they cannot burrow in, it is imperative to keep the enclosure covered and secured so that natural predators (such as large birds of prey in your area), cannot scoop down and pick up your pet.

Where children come into play with this is if they get overly excited to play with their beloved animal that they accidentally leave the enclosure open and the pet escapes. Now, adults, too, can leave an enclosure open on accident. However, this is much more likely with kids (especially multiple children) who are not prone to making critical decisions in situations that require them (like this one). 

So, unless you can monitor the enclosure or crate at all times, or keep your kids away from them, then it is best not to mix the two (a Fennec fox and kids) in the same home.

Children can Pose a Physical Threat to Small Animals

Finally, not only could your kids accidentally leave an enclosure open and allow your pet out or something else into the enclosure that should not be there, but kids (especially under the age of 5) are prone to making unexpected loud noises and sudden movements that could frighten or even physically harm the pet.

Because of this, if you are planning to bring a Fennec fox into your home (with kids), you need to make sure that your kids are not left unsupervised with the animal lest something tragic could happen to your new exotic pet. You might not have to exercise quite as much caution with older kids, but it is still noteworthy that supervision is required. 

So, while a Fennec fox will love the attention that your kid will give it, especially considering how absolutely adorable this animal is, most people find that kids and Fennec foxes do not mix well together in a home.

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