It’s the world’s smallest fox with the world’s biggest fox ears. This adorable fennec fox baby was born at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo on 3 December, and has just started to explore the world outside its nest.
“The little one is beginning to spend a lot more time outdoors. We’re seeing it playing, rolling around on its back and chasing after mum and dad,” says keeper Deb Price.
Fennec foxes (Vulpes zerda) are North African natives, adapted to life in the desert. Their fluffy long hair protects them from searing sun rays while also keeping them cool on cold desert nights.
The huge batlike ears, which can grow more than 15 cm in length, are also a hot-weather adaptation—they radiate heat away from the body.
Taronga’s fennec kit doesn’t have a name yet as staff are yet to determine its sex. It’s a third-time baby for parents Kebili and Zander, and the first fennec fox born at Taronga in four years.
Fennec foxes are tiny—adults usually grow to be just 20 centimetres tall, and weigh no more than 1.5 kilograms. This fluffy kit has already clocked in a whopping 640 grams, and is starting to forage for its own food. Right now crickets, mealworms and even mice are on the menu.
In the wild fennec foxes are classified as least concern. The animals are not domesticated, but in some countries such as the United States they are allowed as exotic pets, making them one of only two species of fox that can be kept as pets.
All images/video courtesy Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo.