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The Vulpes zerda, or Fennec Fox, is an exotic animal native to the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa. Yet, many have been bred in captivity after rescue from danger in the wild. Bringing this nocturnal animal into your home might not be the easiest feat, but it is possible for patient pet owners.
Fennec Foxes cost between $1500-3500. Costs below this could be alarming for various reasons. Keep in mind that additional costs of housing, food, vet appointments, etc. will need to be accounted for. Training these pets will not be easy, and caring for them will require great patience.
Still, for those pet owners who are willing to work with a Fennec fox to help this nocturnal animal to feel right at home in the space that once belonged just to you and your family, these precious foxes can be such fun pets. Of course, you will need to make sure you can legally acquire and raise one in your local area. Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of owning a Fennec fox as a pet.
What are the Costs of a Fennec Fox?
With large ears pointing towards the sky, it is no wonder that the Fennec fox has worked its way into the hearts of exotic pet owners all over the world. Still, when bringing one into your home, you need to recognize the associated costs that will come along with this animal. Without the proper financial preparation, you and your pet can be in a really tight and potentially disastrous situation.
The costs of a Fennec fox are much like that of any other pet, but since this type of pet is exotic, you may find that the costs are a bit higher. Particularly, with a Fennec fox, you need to consider the costs to purchase, exotic vet bills (and regular shots), indoor/outdoor pin, food, toys (for mental stimulation), maintenance, grooming, bedding, and more.
You also want to make sure that you keep in mind any additional or unforeseen expenses that could come up like unforeseen vet expenses due to an injury or health concern for your pet, or attempting to keep the pet in a kennel (or pay for a pet sitter) if you happen to leave the area. These costs can add up, so it is imperative that you are prepared.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
Cost to Purchase
As mentioned above, the cost to purchase a Fennec fox will range between $1500-3500. As you can see, this is quite a large range. On average, you will find that the price sits closer to $2800+ considering the care and reputation that these exotic pets require and receive (as well as any shipping costs).
Still, this is not the kind of pet that you want to look for a “deal” on. If you find a Fennec fox for sale for less than this amount, this could be a major red flag that the pet is coming from a sketchy or non-reputable breeder (or has potentially even been captured from the wild).
Not only is this a concern for the animal’s rights, but this has grave concern for you as well. Purchasing a Fennec fox from a non-reputable breeder means you will have no guarantee of the animal’s health history, any medical concerns that have been presented by an exotic vet, shot records, or any certification of legitimacy (of the breeder). Contrarily, you will find that licensed breeders (who have received a license by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the United States) will be able to show you these things.
Exotic Vet Bills, Grooming, and Maintenance
You will also need to consider the costs associated with your Fennec fox’s medical and health-related concerns. Primarily, you will need to ensure that your pet has access to a veterinarian, and since these are exotic pets, it is not guaranteed that your local vet will be able to accept or administer the regular shots that this animal requires.
Along with this, should your pet unfortunately experience any health concerns or major injury, an exotic vet could be required to treat these issues for your Fennec fox. Because of this, not only will you need to keep up with the regular expenses that come with regular vet visits, but you should keep some pocket money aside in case an emergency arises (or even just additional grooming and maintenance costs) with your Fennec fox requiring you to take him or her to the exotic animal vet.
While Fennec foxes can sleep in a variety of conditions (mainly warm, could use typical pet bedding in a warm room), you need to make sure that you are using some type of crate or pin that the Fennec fox cannot escape from. This can add up some pretty unexpectedly high costs.
Consider that the Fennec fox can burrow more than 20 feet deep. Because of this, if you are leaving your Fennec fox in an outdoor enclosure, you will need to make sure that you have constructed the enclosure by placing a base of concrete, treated wood planks, or another type of material that the animal will not be able to dig through. This can make the costs of owning this type of pet way higher than usual.
Additionally, you will need to make sure that the enclosure has a covering or is sharply angled since Fennec foxes can also climb incredibly well. Because of this, you can see that owning a Fennec fox and providing it a safe indoor/outdoor pin will not be as easy as using your backyard as it comes. Instead, you will need to invest in equipment that can keep your pet safe.
Along with that, you will need to make sure that you (or another pet sitter) are keeping close supervision on this animal when it is outdoors considering it is a natural prey animal. Unless the enclosure you are using is entirely inaccessible to outside predators, your pet could be in danger. Again, finding an enclosure that can work can add up your costs pretty quickly.
Fortunately, when you are not around, you can crate the Fennec fox as long as it is given access to water and food. Since these animals are nocturnal, you may find that they are highly active during the night and can sleep all day while you are gone at work.
Since Fennec foxes are omnivores, this makes the cost of their food pretty standard compared with most other pets- thank goodness, considering the costs that can add up for exotic pets otherwise. Most people feed their Fennec foxes healthy brands of dog food or cat food (that does not have additives or preservatives in it) and mixed fruits and vegetables.
It is important to consult your exotic vet on the diet that is most appropriate for your Fennec fox as the specific ingredients as well as amount will vary based on your pet’s age, weight, and activity level. Keeping your vet in the loop on your pet’s diet can help you to address health concerns in a highly preventative manner rather than a reactive (more costly) way. This is another way to keep costs down for your Fennec fox.
While your Fennec fox might not go through too many toys the same way an aggressive dog could (chewing them apart and tearing them to shreds), these are highly playful animals that need to have a variety of activities to keep them mentally stimulated.
Now, you might think that this sounds ridiculous, but mental and physical stimulation through active play is something that will not only help your pet’s physical health but their behavioral concerns (stemming from their mental health) as well. Keeping a stash of toys should not cost you too much, but it is necessary for keeping this pet happy and healthy.
Can you Train a Fennec Fox?
Now that you are aware of the costs associated with this type of exotic pet, you might be wondering where the costs of training them come in. Unfortunately, most of the training for a Fennec fox will need to be done by you, as most pet trainers are not qualified to train this type of exotic pet.
Much less, Fennec foxes cannot be trained the same way a dog can be. Since they are not pack animals (they do not follow a leader although they are usually found in colonies of up to 10 Fennec foxes), they are largely independent and respond more to positive reinforcement through habitual responses than they do to effective commands.
Still, this does not mean that they are entirely untrainable. For instance, since a Fennec fox inherently practices site-specific defecation, you can train it where to poop by encouraging it (using positive reinforcement like a treat) to release in the same area each time. Just be sure to only use a covered litter box since these burrowing animals might otherwise send your litter flying across the room- and be sure you are ready for how long this training process can take.
Since they can learn cause and effect (ex. a wrapper opening means they are about to receive a treat), you can use behavioral clues for training them, although this will take a while for your pet to catch on.
If you are attempting to train them to be less on a nocturnal schedule and be more active during the day, then you will need to do this through positive reinforcement and through keeping them highly physically and mentally stimulated during the day to shift their “internal clock”. Similarly, you can anticipate their pee and poop schedule by letting them to their “release” location in intervals, specifically after they have consumed a larger amount of food or water.
Are Fennec Foxes Easy to Care for as Pets?
There are many contributing factors that come into play with the ease of care for any pet. Largely, this depends on whether or not you and the pet are a good fit for one another. Specifically, if you want to bring a Fennec fox into your home, you need to consider a few key insights for its care.
Fennec foxes are exotic pets, so they have exotic needs and are not as easily cared for as other pets. They are nocturnal, highly active, independent, playful, and require mental and physical stimulation. They are not high maintenance in terms of food and health, but they require lots of attention (which can happen during the night until they adjust to your schedule).
You will also want to remember that these animals, even though you will likely acquire one that has been reputably bred in captivity, have instincts that go back to their Saharan desert origin. This means that you will need an enclosure that has moderate to hot temperatures at all times.
While Fennec foxes are known to engage with their owners, especially during play, they need a lot of it. You may hear your Fennec shrieking throughout the night if it is unhappy- partly due to feeling abandoned or unstimulated (bored) when left alone at night. These factors can be a lot for someone to take in, but if you are up for the task, then you can work to make this the right fit for you and your animal.