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Our Son The Fennec Fox

Ricky the Fox

First of all, I must tell all of you that animals have been in my heart and home since I was a young child. Also that my husband and myself have had two Arctic Foxes in our home in the past. I am also a self taught Animal Behaviorist with training from Pennsylvania State University, Animal Science Department.

I have worked for thirty one years with wild and domestic skunks having owned thirty nine domestic skunks over that time period to the present. We now have six domestic skunks, an African Pigmy Hedgehog, A Red Eared Slider Water turtle AND our very first Fennec Fox.

Our interest in Fennec Foxes began when while visiting Mr. Paul Wade, we had the pleasure of holding and interacting with his first Fennec, Conway. We had been pondering the idea of perhaps acquiring a dog. We have both always been
very interested in wild species of animals. After spending a great deal of time with Mr Wade's fennec, Conway, we began to become even more interested in the possibility of a domestically raised Fennec fox.

We did not take this responsibility lightly, and therefore made other visits to the Wade home to hold and to study his fox's traits and behavior. We then decided to go forward with our interest in acquiring a Fennec fox kit. We did a lot of research on the computer about Fennecs, watched many, many videos on Youtube of people and their pet Fennecs. In the meantime we searched the
Fennec Fox breeders list, and checked out their credibility. We also discovered that hand raised Fennec fox kits were in demand, sometimes with a waiting list of over a years time. After locating a breeder with over thirty one years
experience, we filled out the application for their consideration to sell us one of their kits. You see, responsible Fennec breeders, are very particular who
they sell their foxes to. They ask questions such as:
Have you ever owned a fox or any other wild animal pet?
Do you live in an house or apartment that has ample room?
Do you have a veterinarian that has experience and will see exotics? and lastly, Do you have the time, patience,and financial means to properly care for a high maintenance animal such as a Fennec Fox?

After their review of our application, and checking out our references we were surprised to have been bumped up to the top of their Fennec fox list.

This took place in January and in March of 2008 our boy was born. Several weeks later a small furry wide-eyed, big eared, little Fennec was shipped to us.

I remember thinking when we went to the airport, how big the airliner (Continental Airways) was and how small our fox was. Even though he had a very long day, crossing from California's LAX to Columbus International airport in Ohio, he was all eyes and ears. He greeted everyone at the air freight terminal with cries of pure joy and excitement. He rode the entire hundred miles back to our home nestled in my arms. The coming days, grew into weeks, and our Fennec son who was named Ricochet before he even arrived in Ohio, grew and thrived. He spent every waking hour with us, and every night in a carrier on a stand
by my side of the bed. We had become Fennec Fox parents to him.

He came with his very own vocabulary, and it was up to us to learn HIS language. We called and acknowledged each and every time he greeted us. We took him everywhere we could in his pet stroller. He loves people and up to this writing, has never met anyone he did not like. We sit down with him every night for two and a half hours of play. Both my husband and I play with him. He loves to play with his many toys especially his plush Zany a form of frisby.

From the time he was very young we discovered Fennecs make Wiley Coyote look like he is standing still. Fennecs can run like the wind, or as I refer to it "A fart in a whirlwind". They also have the ability to jump like
Velociraptors. He would sometimes fly recklessly through the rooms, jumping on chairs, tables, and one time running up my body as I sat on the floor with him. He actually ran over my face on the way up, upon the stove, and over my face again on his way down.

When we got Ricochet, "Ricky" for short, his paper work told of his behavior as sweet, but sometimes bossy. All that was to play out as he matured. On one occasion he received a new toy. Unlike his other toys that he would return to us to throw again, Ricky got possessive and selfish with this new toy. He would run or growl if you got near it and scream at the top of his lungs. Let me tell
you, if a Fennec does not want you to have items that he has professionally stolen, you are NOT going to readily acquire them...and another note to this dilemma, if you are both in your sixty's, unless you take to running relays to catch a Fennec fox, it's just not going to happen.

I finally had enough of his naughty behavior and ran him into his enclosure. I had to cover him with a blanket remove the toy from his mouth (not an easy task) and hide it in my shirt. Like a spoiled child, Ricky screamed and fumed for over an hour looking for the now missing toy.

If you are to become fox parents, you MUST be the "parent" and take your Fennec child in check from time to time. Forget all the things that you’ve learned or practiced with puppies. THIS IS A FOX AND WILL ALWAYS BE A FOX!

For the most part Ricky is a pretty well rounded fox. He eats well, loves to play, loves to ride in the car and go on research with us at Hueston Woods State Park where we study and film wild skunks. Ricky is one of the few foxes that will use a litter pan in his enclosure. But in his area, every thing inside his enclosure is his to do as he sees fit. Peeing and pooping on the blankets at will, tearing up dog beds (four to be exact), chewing up toys, and slinging
food out on the kitchen floor for our pet skunks to find. Thank goodness for the skunk clean up crew!

We’ve had to remove chairs, put items on higher ground and basically fox proof his play areas in the house. I don't know if other Fennec foxes are thieves but our dear little Ricochet is a master thief. Nothing is safe, especially shiny items. If you get up out of a chair and turn your back
for a minute...ok, a half a minute...he is on your chair and up on the table STEALING and he is very, very good at it. Then the whole procedure begins...running him down to get the item back. As stated before, he is running like a streak of lightning, squealing and growling all the way. He will often drop it out of his mouth from all his screaming. Then we'd better be faster that him or he will reclaim it and the whole chase begins again.

Bathing Ricky is another thing. Although since he is very bonded to us, he will allow us to bath him. He is also so small we use a small sprayer attached to our kitchen sink. It takes two of us to bath him. He jumps and squirms and
his feet are going in overdrive. Thank goodness he is small, and bath time is short. I would compare it to trying to bath a power mixer... legs flying, water flying, shampoo flying.

Ricochet is now almost a year old, it is the breeding season for Fennecs. We had Ricky neutered at six months of age. I think that was a very good idea.

To sum up what it is like having a Fennec fox in the family, and I can only relate our experiences, you have to spend a lot of time with them.... playing, holding, kissing and speaking to them in their own language (by the way, Ricky can say the words, WOW, YEAH, and NO). His favorite word is NO! You have to basically become Fennec fox parents.

They do not understand any of the human behavior. If you are willing to put up with: streaking thru the house, pee and poop in secret areas, torn newspapers, lost items to a returning thief, having to take charge and face down a tiny occasional monster, run until you are exhausted trying to catch the little devil, replace chewed and torn items, move all your little treasures out of harms way, take your little guy out for a picnic instead of you going to a fine restaurant, love the little guy unconditionally then you might be ready to take on a Fennec Fox as a family member.

We absolutely LOVE our "little man" but like raising children, they do not always do want you want them to do. WE SPEND MORE TIME WITH OUR ANIMALS

The real secret is time spent with your Fennec will pay off generously in the end. Remember ...THEY DO NOT LIVE IN YOUR WORLD, YOU LIVE IN THEIRS.

Good luck to all of you ,

Cody & Arnold Hildebrand
Wild Brother Animal Behavior Study

Have question or comment for Ricky? Email me and I'll get back with you: rickytiki2@yahoo.com


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