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How can fennec foxes eat scorpions?

How can fennec foxes eat scorpions?


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I just watched a video of a small desert fox (fennec) that toys and eats a scorpion. Although I am unsure of the exact type of scorpion, it is apparently quite able to sting. Another online instance of the same video states that the scorpion is Androctonus Australis. Not only is this breed severely venomous and claiming, as its name suggests, human lives every year, but it is also well armoured. You can hear it when the fennec chews on it…

Fennec Fox eats Scorpion

So, my question, which might be stupid: how can this fox take the scorpion in its snout again and again? I notice that it lets the scorpion go many times. Is it able to avoid being stung? Is it extremely resistant to venoms? I read in the Wikipedia article, that it eats insects, but was unable to find out more!

I was able to find some information about hedgehogs and snake venom, but nothing similar about canines. In the case of hedgehogs, a partial immunity is apparently due to a protein called erinacin in its muscles.

After a user kindly corrected my spelling, I found some comments beneath YouTube videos, claiming it was nearly immune to scorpion venom. Sadly without additional information.


Very carefully. First remove the stinger, the rest is relatively easy. In your video, you see the fox quickly bite at the stinger, then back off. Over and over until the scorpion's abdomen was loose as a rag, unable to launch the stinger at 3:08 minutes. 3:32 - you can see the stinger is almost off. 3:40 - stinger gone, she can now eat it more calmly.


Fennec foxes dwell in the sandy Sahara and elsewhere in North Africa. Their nocturnal habits help them deal with the searing heat of the desert environment, and some physical adaptations help as well.

Their distinctive, batlike ears radiate body heat and help keep the foxes cool. They also have long, thick hair that insulates them during cold nights and protects them from hot sun during the day. Even the fox's feet are hairy, which helps them perform like snowshoes and protects them from extremely hot sand. The fox's feet are also effective shovels for frequent digging—fennec foxes live in underground dens.


What Does the (Fennec) Fox Say?

These foxes are found in the sandy deserts and arid regions of northern Africa, including the Sahara.

Why do fennec foxes have big ears?

The fennec may be the world’s smallest fox, but it sports outlandishly large ears! In fact, relative to body size, it has the largest ears of any member of the canid family.

It uses those big ears to listen for sounds of prey in the sand. The ears also help dispel body heat to keep the fox cool.

What do you call a group of fennec foxes?

A group of foxes is called a skulk!

Can I have a fennec fox as a pet?

Fennec foxes may seem cute and cuddly, but these wild animals have not been domesticated, and it’s not a good idea to keep one as a pet. In fact, in many jurisdictions it’s illegal.

Not only are fennecs highly social, incredibly active and very destructive — they also require specialized diets, health care and socialization with other fennec foxes.

Why do fennec foxes scream (aka what does the fennec fox say)?

These foxes communicate using many different vocalizations, including whimpers, barks, shrieks, squeaks, growls, howls and chatters.

Why do fennec foxes have furry feet?

Their thick-furred paws provide traction for running through the sand. They also protect the fox’s feet from the desert’s extreme heat!

How does a fennec fox survive in the desert?

Fennec foxes have many desert adaptations, including fur-covered feet, heat-radiating ears and pale fur that offers excellent camouflage in the sand. Panting helps regulate their temperature at times of extreme heat, their breathing rate can climb from 23 to 690 breaths per minute!

Living in underground burrows helps these nocturnal animals avoid the heat of the day. Their thick fur offers additional protection from the sun and keeps them warm during cold desert nights.

What does a fennec fox eat?

This fox eats grasshoppers, locusts and other insects, as well as small rodents, lizards, birds and their eggs. It also feeds on roots, fruits and leaves, which help it stay hydrated.

How does a fennec fox hunt?

Fennecs hunt alone at night, listening for food in the sand and then digging with all four feet to find it.

On your next visit to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, stop by the Small Mammal House to see female fennec fox Daisy and new male fennec fox Barkley!


Fennec foxes are known to live in regions such as the arctic tundra of northern Skyrim, the desertified rocky landscape of northern Elsweyr, and even in some of the plains of the Alik'r Desert, though they are less common there. They live in regions of extreme desertic climates, and have adapted over the centuries to their respective regions. Those of northern Elsweyr and the Alik'r are known to be tan in colour, and easily blend in with the sand and yellow-red rock native to those regions. Those of northern Skyrim are white or light grey in colour, able to easily hide themselves against the backdrop of snow and icy rock.

Fennec foxes posses large ears capable of hearing what most other creatures would not, allowing them to find unsuspecting prey from great distances and simultaneously making them notoriously difficult to catch.

Those that are native to hot climates are known to eat scorpions.

Some peoples of Hammerfell, Elsweyr, and Skyrim enjoy taming and breeding fennec foxes, often spending copious amounts of coin to catch them. They are said to make alert companions for those with the means to aquire one.

Fennec foxes can be poisoned by feeding them a paste mixture of onion and garlic, which is toxic to the small mammal. Some travellers in Hammerfell and Elsweyr bring onion and garlic along with them for the express purpose of luring the foxes with pieces of scorpion lathered with the paste so as to poison and eat the foxes, as the pastial mixture is not lethal to Men, Mer, or Beast.

Fennec fox meat has been described by Hrodkir Mincemeat in his book Anequina Animal Identification and Tasting as being similar to wolf meat, though "more tender and less gamey".


Chapter 3: Fennec Fox Adaptation

As I’ve mentioned before, fennec foxes are supremely well adapted to their desert environments. This ranges from their bodies to their diets to their social structures. All in all, fennec foxes fulfill a specialized niche within their ecosystem.

Physical Characteristics

Fennec fox possesses feet covered at the bottoms with unusually thick fur. This fur allows them to walk on sand so hot that it would burn the feet of a creature with less padding as protection.

The coat of a fennec fox blends in well with the sand, especially during the night time when fennec foxes are active. Combined with its small size, the fennec fox is naturally camouflaged in a desert setting.

Fennec foxes have organs and bodily systems which make extremely efficient use of water. The fennec fox’s kidneys in particular are able to prevent water loss better than almost any other mammals in existence. As a result, they require much less of it to function than most creatures of similar size and weight. They’re able to extract enough water from their diet to survive with no direct water source if needed.

In addition to the above fennec fox adaptations, the fennec fox’s distinctive ears are yet another way the fennec fox is suited to its environment.

Fennec Fox Ears

A fennec fox’s ears serve two purposes in the wild. First, a fennec fox’s ears act as a means to rid the body of excess heat. The ears have many blood vessels close to the surface to dissipate heat, allowing the fennec fox to survive a sweltering desert. The second function of the fennec fox’s large ears is to allow them to detect prey. Fennec foxes’ hearing is so acute that they can even hear tiny prey animals burrowing underground.

Fennec Fox Diet in the Wild

Fennec foxes are opportunistic feeders and survive on a wide range of food sources. Fennec foxes are omnivores, eating both animals and plants, although the bulk of their diet tends to be animal in nature.

Fennec foxes hunt at night, targeting primarily insects and small rodents. They use their large ears and an outstanding sense of hearing to locate small animals in the darkness. Using their hearing, fennec foxes are able to detect prey beneath the sand and quickly burrow down to capture their prey. When observing a fennec fox hunting, you may see it seem to stare at the ground while rotating its head. When exhibiting this behavior, the fennec fox is keying in on minute underground sounds to locate prey.

Fennec foxes supplement their diet with birds, rabbits, lizards, eggs and various fruits, roots, and vegetation. The plant-based part of the fennec fox’s diet is where it gets most of the water it needs to survive.

If a fennec fox finds a food source large enough that it can’t eat it all immediately, it will cache the food for later consumption. Fennec foxes hunt with their young and teach them how to successfully hunt.


17 thoughts on &ldquo Are Fennecs Foxes? &rdquo

Cool post Sabrina. I tend to think that Fennecs belong to the fox family, as opposed to their own group. The “fennec fox”, also known as the desert fox, is a beautiful, small member of the canine family. Fennec foxes can be kept as pets, although they are not very common. They are petite animals, but do acquire very large ears.Fennec foxes have a weight of 2 – 3.5 pounds. They have a soft, thick, short coat that is off white color. They are very active, quick and agile, and have a high pitched yelp.
Many believe that fennecs are ancestors of chihuahuas, rather than a form of a fox. Being that foxes and dogs are from the same canine family, its not too hard to believe that chihuahuas are descendants of fennecs. Both share very similar characteristics, including large ears and large eyes.
For further reading, see this website:
http://fennecfox.biz/could-fennec-fox-be-the-ancestor-of-chihuahua/

Nice topic, Sabrina. I found some research on when you keep a Fennec as a pet, and it said that they need extra attention. When not domesticated, Fennecs dig a lot to make dens for themselves and to find prey – they could use this skill to dig holes under fences to escape. They are also able to jump very high, and can potentially jump over fences to escape. When in a large unenclosed area, the Fennecs should be kept on a leash because they could be very hard to catch if they are chasing after something. And as do dogs, the Fennec would attack if they feel cornered or threatened. But there is a plus side to having them as a pet. They’re omnivores, and will eat fruit, insects, small rodents, or even dog or cat food.
http://exoticpets.about.com/cs/fennecfoxes/a/fennecfoxes.htm

Hey Sabrina, I’m glad you picked a topic you liked. I think that the Fennecs are classified under there own group. The reason for this is because an animal is usually classified by the amount of chromosomes it has. Since a Fennecs chromosome count is different from a fox’s it should not be classified as the same species. I think a Fennec is not a good domesticated animal, because it has characteristics for the desert, and since it has these characteristics, it would not be necessary to live in a house hold environment, also it has sharp teeth which could hurt an average person. The website below shows why Fennecs can’t be domesticated.

Great post Sabrina! Before reading this post, I had never heard of Fennecs. I did a little more research about them because I was interested in whether they are scientifically considered to be foxes. In multiple dictionary sources, Fennecs are listed under the category of foxes. Although Nick makes a valid point about how chromosome count is the basis for animal groupings, I tentatively believe that Fennecs are indeed foxes because many of their characteristics are so similar to those of foxes. Although some of the traits of Fennecs are different from the majority of foxes, they are still widely considered to be foxes. On the National Geographic website, Fennecs are considered to be foxes and are said to be the smallest of all of foxes. I also believe that Fennecs should not be raised in a common household environment, like Nick said. Fennecs are wild animals and are not meant to be breeded and raised by humans. It seems unsafe for both the humans raising the Fennec, along with the animal itself.

Cute animal Sabrina! I have never heard of this type of fox and wanted to learn more about them. After researching I found out a few unique characteristics of this animal. Fennec Foxes are able to live without water. They have special kidney’s that are adapted to restrict water loss. I also earned that Fennec dens can be up to 120 square meters with at least 15 entrances. It has been seen that the foxes place dens close to family members, and in some instances have intertwining dens. I wonder if these animals practice kin selection.

Found on this website is an adorable video of a “domesticated” fennec fox:

The Belyaev experiment also mentioned on this site is a POWERFUL example of artificial selection. We’ll discuss this experiment in class, but maybe a few students would like to click on the link about this experiment and describe it here? It has a lot in common with the attempt to domesticate fennecs.

Due to the fact the Fennecs Foxes are the only carnivores in the Sahara Desert, it is rather dangerous to the keep them as domestic pets because if there were a lack of them in the Desert, it can alter the food chain. I don’t think that is because of the fact that they are from the Sahara desert why it would be a bad idea to keep them as domestic animals, because Dogs are naturally wild animals as well as cats and birds and they make wonderful additions to a household. It also seems rather unintelligent to keep them as domestic animals due to the fact that they are nocturnal. The only time you will be able to play with them is when you would be asleep? However, breeders and owners believe that they are wonderful pets. I thought that this blog was enjoyable to read, however, I would love to know more details about the Fennecs Fox’s habitat, it’s diet, and it’s predators. I am looking forward to articles to coming from you in the future.

This is a very riveting post, Sabrina! After doing some more research and gaining more knowledge on the fox, I do not beileve that the Fennecs should be classified as foxes, but instead, be categorized under their own division. As you stated in the article, the Fennec has only 32 chromosomes, which results in extreme differences between the fox and the fennec. Also, they eat things like plants, rodents, eggs, reptiles, and insects, which makes them the only carnivore in the Sahara desert.
I also believe that it is immoral to domesticate the Fennec. They often dwell in groups with around 10 other individuals of the same species in the Sahara, and they become extremely agressive when searching for mates each year. They are naturally wild animals and prefer to live where they originate, the Sahara Desert. It would be cruel to remove them from their natural habitat, and use them for the pleasure of humans. Although this may seem hypocritical, as most humans own some kind of dog or cat, that has been true for so many years now, and dogs and cats have adapted to life with humans.

Good post Sabrina! I also find some information about Fennecs after read your post.
Basically, I think that why fenneces are so different from other fox is because they live in Sahara Desert. I’ve never heard that any kind of fox live in a desert.
The surface of the desert ranges from large areas of sand dunes (erg Chech, Raoui), to stone plateaus (hamadas), gravel plains (reg), dry valleys (wadis), and salt flats. So we can see that the Sahara Desert is very arid, and it’s very changeable. And the fennecs need to be change because of the environment. I think that’s why they are not look like fox and they have so many traits.

Great post Sabrina!! I seen fennec foxes in real life and they are unique animals. Referring to what Ms. Baker said, the Belyaev experiment was a major discovery in artificial selection. Belyaev was a Soviet geneticist who performed his experiments in the 1950s and 60s. Belyaev believed that domesticated animals resulted in genetic changes over the course of time by the process of selection. Unlike most other scientists at the time, he believed that behavior was the cause of these changes, not by size or how much the animal reproduces. In 1959, he started an experiment on which how different behavioral skills can change a species over time. He used grey foxes, which are untamed. As the experiment began, he kept the foxes in cages, and allowed less time with contact with humans. When new pups are about 3 months old, they are placed to experiment with feeding, in which the experimenters give them food, and then see if the pups interact with the other pups or the humans more often. When the pups are sexually mature, they are placed in classes based on tameness. Eventually, some of the foxes remained the same, while some have in fact became tame.
I would now like to raise a question. How will this experiment, if performed, will react to this experiment? What could be a possible hypothesis for this experiment? These questions could relate to the fennecs by showing that there could be a possiblity that the fennecs can be fully tamed.

Interesting choice for a post, Sabrina. I agree with Andrea that although they may be difficult pets to raise and take care of, I think that with enough care and attention they could easily be considered “pets”. If you think about it, most household pets originated from similar wild speicies that would never be considered demestocated today. For example, dogs are common household pets that numerous amounts of people keep as company and train to do several tricks. Researchers at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles), recently conducted a study to prove that dogs descended from wolves in the middle east. Their results showed that specific domesticated dogs can trace a common ancestor back to wolves that lived in the middle east through gentetics and the same DNA. Just like dogs, these fennec foxes can be domesticated even though they are wild animals.
I don’t exactly agree that fennecs are classified under their own group, but I do think that these foxes can be considered foxes. According to National Geographic, researches consider this species a type of fox because they behave and act just like foxes. They also try to survive and reproduce in the same way. I don’t think their chromosome count affects if they should depend on what group they should be classified under.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124768140
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/fennec-fox/

Great post, Sabrina! Fennecs can be household pets in fact they are basically a combination of a cat and a dog. They are the size of a cat, and have similar personalities to a cat, but have the energy of a dog. They don’t even smell, like a cat or dog would, unless they scared but that odor lasts only for a moment. They aren’t more or less time consuming then a dog would be, you would need to play with it and give it its exercise, but it also sleeps a lot too. They also come with the same precautions you’d have with a dog, you should keep small objects away from them because they will eat it and because they are small you should be careful not to step on them around the house! Fennecs do also bark like dogs, and snarl like them too when playing so don’t be worried if they make any weird noises at you. These animals are a lot like having a puppy in the house they will chew on your furniture and aren’t automatically trained not to pee on your bed. They are trainable though, and aren’t completely wild in the sense that they love to be cuddled and held.

wow great topic Sabrina! I personally believe that Fennecs are foxes. I did not know that foxes could live in deserts, or the Sahara Desert for that manner. I know from general knowledge that the Sahara Desert is very hot and i thought it was awesome that this animal is nocturnal so it can hunt at night so it doesn’t have to face the scorching heat. I also noticed that you mentioned that they have to have a lot of attention or else they can use there skills to dig under fences and i 100 percent agree with that because i have watched a video which i will post at the bottom of a fennec owner that is annoying it’s fennec with his camera and the fennec makes growling noises and tries to leave the area. I just thought that it proved that if you don’t treat a fennec right it will do what it knows whats est for him.

Great article, Sabrina! In terms of your questions, I believe that fennecs could possibly be pets. If a fennec is born in captivity rather than in the wild, it is unlikely for it to be any more dangerous than a a dog or a cat. After doing some research, I learned that fennec foxes are hunted for their valuable fur, and are nearly extinct. By this logic, I don’t believe that it would have negative ramifications for the fennecs at all if they are kept as pets as a matter of fact, a fennec kept as a pet would most likely live a longer life than a fennec in the wild.


Fennec Fox

Fennec Fox populations appear to be at risk. They are not only suffering from habitat loss, but they are often hunted throughout the Sahara, making them rare in parts of Northwestern Africa.

Fennec Foxes do not pose any major threat to people or their livestock. In fact, they are important small predators that help to control rodents and locusts populations. The overpopulation of rodents poses a direct threat to the environment and agricultural crops. Consequently, small carnivores are extremely important to the balance of many ecosystems.

Locally, in North Africa, the main threat appears to be trapping for exhibition or sale to tourists. There may also be a higher risk of road kill in areas of human development


Relaxin: A hormonal aid to diagnose pregnancy status in wild mammalian species

Don R. Bergfelt , . Mohd A. Beg , in Theriogenology , 2014

6.1.1 Canids

In female gray wolves (Canis lupus) under managed care, use of the commercial EIA ReproCheK kit ( Table 1 ) accurately distinguished pregnancy from nonpregnancy in all animals [84] . Use of the ReproCheK kit for pregnancy diagnosis was further evaluated in gray wolves, Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi), red wolves (Canis rufus), fennec foxes ( Vulpes zerda ), and African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) under managed care and free-ranging island foxes (Urocyon littoralis) [88] . Corresponding to those animals confirmed pregnant with ultrasound or observed with pups, the relaxin EIA was positive for gray wolves, fennec foxes, and island foxes greater than 25 days after mating. Application of the ReproCheK kit less than 25 days resulted in an approximately 8% false-negative rate in island foxes on the basis of a positive ultrasound examination or observation of pups. The relaxin EIA was negative for red wolves and wild dogs, which was supported by no observation of pups. The false-positive rate was nil on the basis of negative test results in known nonmated Mexican gray wolves, red wolves, and island foxes.

In coyotes (Canis latarans) [89] , results of the relaxin EIA ReproCheK kit ( Table 1 ) with plasma samples indicated all control animals (i.e., males and females that were not mated or were with castrated males) tested negative for relaxin, whereas all mated animals with pups tested positive approximately 28 days after mating. In mated coyotes without pups, 87% tested negative for relaxin and 13% tested positive. The basis for the 13% that tested positive could not be clarified because pregnancy or pregnancy loss could not be confirmed. Nonetheless, the combined results indicated that a commercial EIA for canine relaxin can be used with serum or plasma as a reliable method for detection of pregnancy in wild canid species beginning greater than 25 days after mating.

The potential for using urine from wild canids was initially indicated by the detection of a relaxin-like substance in the urine of a pregnant maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) using a canine relaxin RIA ( Table 1 ) [70] . Future studies are required to confirm and broaden the application of immunoassay of relaxin in urine in this and other canid species.


Question Regarding Fennec Fox Scorpion Venom Resistance

I was doing some searching for a research document I’m doing on fennec foxes (a personal project) and I came across this viral 2016 video of a fennec fox de-stinging and eating a scorpion.

(It’s best to watch the video muted kids are crying in the background).

This video was a perfect example for my project, but unfortunately it left me with a pair of unanswered questions that I could not find definitive answers to on any thread or comment section Google offered. A lot of top comments have answers but no way of being verified.

Therefore, I was hoping someone here might have a definite answer to these two questions I had:

Are fennec foxes immune to scorpion venom? It had to have gotten stung at least once. Even though that’s a big scorpion the stings are pretty bad, allegedly.

Is that a deathstalker scorpion? I tried to look at an image comparison but all yellowish scorpions looked the same to my eye. The only clue I have is that their habitats overlap. If so, then any venom resistance the fox might have is even more impressive.

Links to further reading are also greatly appreciated. The closest I came was Stack Exchange.