The world’s smallest wild dog is also the world’s smallest fox: the the Fennec Fox (vulpes zerda). It can be found in the Sahara Desert and throughout North Africa, thriving in the hot environment with very little water.
“Sand absorbs heat, and the hotter it gets, the more heat it radiates. The temperature here spirals to over 100 degrees. In such sizzling conditions, the fennec’s size matters. A small body can shed heat faster than a large one, and to lose heat even faster, the fennec’s ears act like sophisticated air conditioning units. The network of veins cools the blood to lower the temperature.”
But the nocturnal fennec fox also avoids the worst of the scorching desert heat by sheltering in underground burrows, mostly hunting for food—”insects, rodents, snails, lizards, plants, fruits, roots, and eggs”—at night.
Watch a fennec fox chase a rodent next: A desert fox hunts a lesser jerboa.
Plus, learn more about these desert animals:
• The Arabian Saluki, one of the fastest dogs on the planet
• The Sand Cat, a wild desert feline
• A tiny desert rain frog hunts for termites at night
• Can Namib Desert beetles help us solve our drought problems?
• How sand swimming shovel-snouted lizards stay cool in the Namib Desert
Bonus video: Baby fennec fox pounces and plays at the San Diego Zoo.