He may be nocturnal and take lengthy daytime naps, but this playful fennec fox’s unexpected bouts of energy keep San Diego Zoo workers on their toes at all times.
This three-month-old fennec fox pup is full of energy and always ready to play in the Children’s Zoo Nursery at the San Diego Zoo. The young male weighs just 1.5 pounds and is in quarantine before being trained to serve as an animal ambassador for his species.
The nocturnal fox has spurts of energy, so animal care staff are giving him lots of toys and food puzzles to help keep him busy. For instance, meal worms are hidden in cardboard boxes or in the pup’s sand mound, which encourages the fennec fox to use his natural searching and digging behaviors. His favorite toys to play with are small, plush toy mice.
Becky Kier, senior Neonatal Assisted Care Unit keeper at the San Diego Zoo, explains:
Fennec foxes are great hunters, and in order to foster those natural behaviors, we will give him some stuffed mice that he’ll toss around and pounce on as if he’s practicing hunting. In the wild he would normally dig for insects in the sand, so we provide him with something to dig through to encourage that behavior as well.
Full grown fennec fox weigh about three pounds, making it the smallest fox species in the world. Large, bat-like ears provide extremely sensitive hearing which can help locate prey underground or up to 1.5 miles away. Another unique fennec fox adaptation is its long, insulated fur (even on their feet) which protects the animal from sun and hot sand, which the fox hs to deal with in the Sahara Desert.
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