The smallest foxes in the world have large, bat-like ears that help give them extraordinary hearing and keep them cool by radiating body heat. Native to North Africa’s Sahara Desert, they have furry paws that protect them from hot sands and insulate them during cold nights. They’re nocturnal and, by the looks of this video, they’re pretty adorable. This is a Fennec Fox.
A three-month-old fennec fox is full of energy and ready to play in the Children’s Zoo Nursery at the San Diego Zoo. The young male, who weighs just 1.5 pounds, is in quarantine before training to serve as an animal ambassador for his species.
The nocturnal fox pup has spurts of energy, so animal care staff have been giving him lots of toys and food puzzles to help keep him busy. For example, meal worms are hidden in cardboard boxes or in his sand mound, which encourages the fox to use some of his natural searching and digging behaviors. The fox’s favorite toys to play with are small, plush toy mice.
“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,” said Becky Kier, senior Neonatal Assisted Care Unit keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “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.”
In the archives: the Earth’s magnetic field helps foxes target mice in the snow, a southern three-banded armadillo playing, and more cute zoo babies.