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What is the world’s smallest wild dog?

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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.

From this fennec fox-filled BBC Earth clip from the program Dogs In The Wild: Meet The Family:

“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.”

fennec fox curled up
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.

fennec fox on a sand hill
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.

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