Picture of the Moment—My, what big ears you have!

Picture of the Moment

There are two main reasons why I have an annual pass to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park:

1 – I don’t have to try to get my money’s worth whenever I go.

2 – Not all critters are out at all times of the day or all days of the week, so on any specific visit I might see something that I haven’t seen before, or perhaps get a better picture.

The Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is a great example.

Fossa

This little one is located in the children’s zoo at the San Diego Zoo. Since I never had (never wanted) children, I used to never go into the children’s zoo. One day I did and found all sorts of interesting critters that are not in the “adult” sections of the zoo. Now I always make a trip into the children’s section to see what’s new.

The Fennec Fox rarely is visible, preferring his little hideaway hole in his exhibit area. This time he was just laying out on that pad and watching me. I told him I was going to make him an Internet star; I’m sure he heard me with those big ears but he just looked at me with those little eyes. Meh.

The Fennec Fox is the smallest of the world’s foxes. It lives in the sandy Sahara Desert and surrounding areas in North Africa. They are nocturnal, which helps them deal with the desert heat. And if you’re wondering why such a small fox as such big ears, it’s the better to hear you with…. Actually, their large ears radiate body heat to help keep them cool. Their long, thick fur insulates them during cold nights and protects them from hot sun during the day. They also have hairy feet which act similarly to snowshoes, protecting them from the hot sand.

Fennec foxes live in communities of about 10 individuals in underground dens. Males mark their territory with urine and are quite aggressive when mating season arrives.

They are opportunistic eaters, which I guess one has to be if one lives in a desert, preferring plants but also eating rodents, eggs, reptiles, and insects. As with most desert dwellers, the fennec fox can go long periods without water. Little is known about the status of wild fennec fox populations; I mean, who wants to live in the desert for an extended period of time studying little critters that live underground?

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post.

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4 thoughts on “Picture of the Moment—My, what big ears you have!

  1. Margaret Griffin

    Hi Russel, My Katie would be jealous of such magnificent ears and would probably be wanting to borrow the fox’s fur coat to keep her warm during the chill of a Castlemaine winter. You were lucky to get such a fine view of the fox.
    There is so much we don’t know about the creatures we share this planet with.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I learned my appreciation of all things living from my wise old grandmother. She used to catch the spiders and flies inside and return them to the outside. She was a big fan of the food chain and didn’t believe it was her place to interrupt it.

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  2. Clemens P. Suter

    Hi Russel, your story reminded me of one of the first lectures I attended at college (I studied biology). Animals in hot regions tend to have larger “external organs” (ears, tail etc), than their counterparts in cold areas. The fennec was one of the examples mentioned, I still recall. Its nearest relative in the arctic is the polar fox, which has very small ears. The big ears help the fennec to loose heat, the smaller ears help the polar fox to keep warm.

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