Forget dogs, now Britons are importing FOXES as pets: Fennec foxes from the ... trends now

Forget dogs, now Britons are importing FOXES as pets: Fennec foxes from the ... trends now
Forget dogs, now Britons are importing FOXES as pets: Fennec foxes from the ... trends now

Forget dogs, now Britons are importing FOXES as pets: Fennec foxes from the ... trends now

Dogs might be man's best friend, but it seems they face fresh competion from a new pet - the Fennec fox. 

Known for its huge ears and fluffy tail, the Fennec fox is technically legal to own in the UK, but experts warn this could be a terrible idea.

Fennecs are not domesticated, require large sandy areas, smell terrible, and can even turn on their owners.

The world's smallest fox might be cute but most homes simply aren't fit to to keep this desert dweller - originally from the Sahara - happy and healthy.

Lindsay McKenna, founder of Wild Side Exotic Rescue, told MailOnline: 'If you really love fennec foxes then please do not buy one.'

Even though fennec foxes are the world's smallest fox, as wild animals they still require far more space than the average pet owner can provide (stock image)

Even though fennec foxes are the world's smallest fox, as wild animals they still require far more space than the average pet owner can provide (stock image)

Fennec foxes hit the headlines today, after a pair arrived at All Things Wild in Worcestershire, after travelling 1,500 miles from a zoo in Hungary.

However, it's also legal to keep a fennec fox as a pet - and owners do not need a special licence to do so.

At her farm in Hertfordshire, Ms McKenna looks after around 35 animals that have been rescued from the exotic pet trade. 

She told MailOnline that she bought two fennec foxes from a UK exotic pet seller in 2018.

However, Ms McKenna is strongly opposed to keeping foxes as pets and says she bought the pair to keep them from being bred to supply the domestic market. 

She explained: 'I thought if someone gets hold of them they're going to breed them because people think they can make a lot of money.

'They should be in the wild and I don't think we've got any right to have them as "pets" to play with.'

Fennec foxes are often marketed as friendly, trainable, and cute alternatives to dogs or cats. 

However, Ms McKenna warns that it is very difficult to keep these animals happy and healthy in captivity.

Fennec foxes are native to the deserts of Northern Africa and require constant hot temperatures and plentiful sand and dirt to dig in (stock image)

Fennec foxes are native to the deserts of Northern Africa and require constant hot temperatures and plentiful sand and dirt to dig in (stock image)

Are Fennec foxes endangered? 

Fennec foxes are not currently considered to be at risk of extinction

They are classified by the IUCN Red List as a species of least concern.

The species is relatively widespread in the deserts of Northern Africa.

However, the development of new roads does increase the risk of foxes being killed by vehicles as they show curiosity towards cars.

Source: IUCN Red List 

Fennec foxes are not considered to be endangered but their trade is controlled to protect their wild population

Fennec foxes are not considered to be endangered but their trade is controlled to protect their wild population 

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'Their needs can be so costly and specific, and with the space they need the average person is not equipped to handle that,' Ms McKenna said.

'They come from Africa so they are used to having good temperatures and they are adapted to being and sand and like to dig.'

Fennec foxes also require huge amounts of enrichment and social engagement.

In the wild, fennec foxes live in groups of up to 10 individuals, but are often sold individually in the pet trade.  

'People are often sold foxes as if they are a solo animal when really they should be in a pack,' Ms McKenna explains. 

Even more worryingly, Ms McKenna explains that Fennec foxes can be dangerous and turn on their owners if not handled correctly.

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