Fennec Diet and Health

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A cat diet is the best for the fennec. Because of this, adequate taurine should be added to the diet. Cooking destroys a lot of taurine, so raw meat is the best source. Mealworms are also an excellent part of the fennec diet.

Twice-yearly Blood Tests
The Fennec Diet

Weight:
Male Fennecs rarely weigh more than 3 1/2lbs., or 1.75 Kilograms
Females weigh less than the males, usually 2-2.5 lbs, or 1-1.25 Kilograms

Longevity:
If Fennecs are kept healthy, they can live 11-14 years in captivity.

Water:
A fennec fox drinks water if available, but it can also survive for long periods of time with only the water content from its food. It is smart to keep water available for them at all times, though.

In the Wild:

A fennec’s diet in the wild is comprised of 90% animals/insects. They scavenge for the other 10%, and it’s mostly in roots that they find and dig up. Their diets usually consist of mostly protein from other animals and insects, with only an occasional bite of root or plant material. They actually get their leafy nutrition from eating the animals that thrive on what little is in the desert in the form of plant food. Specifically, in the wild fennecs eat beetles and other insects, lizards and other reptiles, rodents, birds and bird eggs, and other small mammals, with only some fruit and plant matter.

In Captivity:

A fennec is a canine, but their need to protein is as great or greater than a cat’s. If you feed a fennec an omnivore diet you will have all manner of health problems. Their bodies are not made for so much fiber. They cannot utilize it, and this shows in their stools. Fennecs also have very unusual teeth for a fox. They are the only foxes known to be like this. Wildlife biologists study these anomalies and state that the teeth are like they are because of the large amount of insects and small boned animals they have in their wild diets. The closer we stay to the diet in the wild, whether it’s a fennec or another exotic animal, the better off the animal is going to be. If you remove the protein, meat or insects from a fennec’s diet, they can develop cardiomyopathy or liver disease.

Food:

Your Fennec should be eating several dozen mealworms, crickets, silkworms or other insects a day, along with eggs, as they rob nests in the wild. Any type of bug or insect is great. You can also feed mice or pinky mice. Others choose to feed raw meat. If you choose to go with a commercial food, please make sure that it is one high in taurine and meat products. There is a list of good commercial cat foods below.
Your fennec should also receive a couple heaping teaspoons full of veggies (frozen mixed veggies, fresh broccoli, tiny tomatoes, and whatever veggie he will eat) per day, as well as a very few fruits as treats. They do scavenge for fruit/veggies and roots in the wild as a small portion of their diet. Cherries are a big favorite and also help to reduce urine odor. But their major diet should be the meat/protein. They need a diet high in protein.

Watch the feces of your fox. If you feed a lot of grain and vegetables, it will be filled with those products. Waste is actually reduced when your fox is being fed an adequate diet. Corn is not well digested and neither are carrots. All manner of green stuff is passed. Grains especially are not used well by fennecs!

Care must be given when feeding a raw diet to ensure it is 100% complete in nutritional value. Feeding only parts of an animal (legs, wings, thighs) can actually cause more harm then good. When this is done it can lead to lack of calcium, or calcium absorption problems. This leads to brittle bones and other diseases. Even a raw diet must be monitored!

If you are worried about your fennec’s diet, please give him extra taurine. You can simply empty a 500 mg capsule on top of the mealworms and veggies. You can also give Vionate (a vitamin recommended for foxes) a couple of times a week.

These little devils have a sweet tooth. They also are willing to eat almost any human food that you offer them, but this is NOT good for them.

To help neutralize urine odors, you can use cranberries or cherries. Buy them frozen and just thaw them. Cherries are usually more effective than cranberries.

Regarding grapes: Many animals have succumbed to grape overdose. Vets have been warned to alert canine owners that they should proceed cautiously as it is not yet known why dogs are dying from the ingestion of grapes. It affects the kidneys. There have been over 50 reported cases of dogs dying from them. If you do choose to feed them, do so sparingly.
Commercial Foods For Your Fennec:

Unfortunately, there is little attention paid to the quality of the protein or the fats in commercially manufactured dog food. The cheapest possible sources are used. Pet food companies have also replaced fat and protein with starch because it is cheap. Higher quality protein stengthens the immune system. Also, diets higher in protein actually enhance kidney function.
If you choose to use commercial foods, rotating meat-based diets with various alternative meats, both raw, canned and dry food is one of the best things you can do for your pets.

Good brands of cat food to feed your fennec:

Prairie (Nature’s Variety): One of the very best commercial foods available for your fennec fox. They carry it in the dried, canned and frozen raw. Their foods are very high in taurine and have the least amount of grains of any out there.
Wellness: They have a super5mix lite formula for cats with only 8% fat and the taurine is 2). The super5mix that is salmon, turkey and herring oil formula hass salmon, deboned turkey, herring meal, salmon meal, and menhaden fishmeal as the first ingredients. The preservatives are all natural. The 5 lb bag of Wellness is around 18.00 (pretty high).
Azmira:Their food is very natural and well-balanced for a fennec.
Mazuri Wild Feline: This is fairly high in taurine, which is good for your fennec. DO NOT feed them the omnivore feed from Mazuri unless they are getting all kinds of raw meats or insects along with it.
Innova, Felidae,Solid Gold and Eagle Pack Holistic are other brands that you may want to try for your fennec.

Some facts about Taurine:

Taurine is found in protein foods of animal origin. Juvenile cataracts in cats and wild canids usually is caused from lack of taurine in the diet. Without taurine, these same animals have reproductive problems. Also, cardiomyopathy has developed in wild animals who have not had taurine in the diet.
When fed taurine, the symptoms, if caught in time, are reversed. Some newer research is showing that we have a number of breeds of domestic dogs that need it…each time cardiomyopathy has occurred, there has been a reversal in the symptoms when this has been fed. Some of the dog food companies have begun adding taurine to the dog foods, simply because of the breeds that need it.

A cat diet is the best for the fennec. Because of this, adequate taurine should be added to the diet. Cooking destroys a lot of taurine, so raw meat is the best source.

Cats needs large amounts of taurine in their diets. In many ways, fennecs are like cats when it comes to taurine…they need it, as do wolves. A fennec’s eyes are like the eyes of a cat. Even their body structure is much like that of a cat…and as such, much protein is needed. Cats have reproductive problems, cardiomyopathy, juvenile cataracts, etc., due to low amounts of taurine being fed. Some of these same things have occurred in our fennecs.

Research:

In studies by Dr. Francis Pottinger, it shows that over several generations, cats on a raw diet were normally healthy while those on a cooked diet demonstrated allergies, heart problems, arthritis, various infections, neurological diseases and shortened life span.

One paper cited a case where a theraputic dose of taurine was given and the heart returned to normal after that. The study seems to suggest the recamended daily taurine be about 250-500mg/kg which I beleive is the same as parts per million when reading lables on food. 1000mg/kg would a a theraputic dose. This was fur farm foxes though. The California Natural cat food has 2933ppm of taurine and tha mazuri feline small has 2600ppm but you need to have more if your feenec gets things like veggies or fruit on the side since the 250-500mg/kg is amount needed in the total daily diet.

Mice, which are usually plentiful, supply this needed amino acid taurine(and it is only found in animal protein, not in vegetation). It is believed the average mouse has about 2000 to 2400 mgs of Taurine in it.

Another nice benefit of taurine: It can can protect animals from endotoxins. This also means that your fennec urine will be less odiferous, because toxins produce odor.

Foods with high taurine content:

Not cooked unless specified…all equal portion servings:
Beef muscle: 362 mg
Beef liver: 192 mg
Beef kidney: 225 mg
Lamb muscle: 473 mg
Lamb kidney: 239 mg
Pork muscle: 496 mg
Pork liver: 169 mg
Chicken muscle: 337 mg
Codfish: 314 mg
Oysters: 698 mg
Clams: 2400 mg
cooked Squid: 766 mg
cooked Octopus: 871 mg
cooked tone: 954 mg
cooked crab: 450 mg
pasteurized milk: 15 mg
cooked clams: 889 mg
cooked scallops: 1006 mg
cooked moule: 596 mg

The only problem with tuna is that it has enough mercury in it to threaten humans, let alone something as small as a fox. You can never tell how much is in any given can either. One can can be a lot and the next a lot less.

Raising Mealworms:

You can raise mealworms in a big Rubbermaid tub. Fill the tub with a few inches of wheat germ as a base. You can feed your mealworms powdered milk, corn meal, apples, potatoes & carrots. The powdered milk is supposed to raise the protein content in the worms. Monkey biscuits are high in protein and the mealworms just love them. There is also an increase in size.
You should probably not feed giant mealworms to your fennec, as they are raised on hormones, and are less healthy for your fennec.
Your fennecs can also eat the adult black bugs, but make sure they get a change to lay their eggs first!

Silkworms can also be fed to your fennec. They are excellent in nutritional value-especially the protein, and there are many places on the web where you can buy them.

Crude Protein 63.8%
Fat 10.6%
Ash 7.4%
Carbohydrate 18.2%
Calcium 0.34%
Phosphorus 0.8%
Ca:P ratio 1 : 2.35

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