If you had the ability to hear a heartbeat from a mile away, how would you use this superpower? With its giant ears and a slew of other unique traits, this furry little member of the Canidae family is able to not just survive but thrive in one of our planet’s harshest environments. Even something so small as a fennec fox can teach us a big lesson in using what we’ve got to live our best lives—so, let’s find out what makes them (and us) so mighty!

When it comes to survival, Mother Nature always seems to have a plan in place. And in the case of this article, we’re getting attuned to one of nature’s designs that is so adorable, it’s almost unbelievable!

Get ready to squeal with delight as we meet a critter that is cute enough to be a toy, yet fierce enough to zero in on its prey with superhero accuracy! Let’s leap into some fun facts about the fennec fox—and maybe we’ll learn a thing or two about our own hidden skills on the journey.

Image: Sleepy fennec fox

Sleepy fennec fox
Source: WagnerAnne // Pixabay

Mini yet mighty!

Weighing in at only a little over three pounds, fennec foxes are the smallest fox species in the whole world. 1 But, what these tiny mammals lack in girth, they make up for in other remarkable ways!

Let’s start with those feet!

Have you ever walked barefoot on the pavement on a hot summer day? OUCH, right?! Well, just imagine walking on the burning sands of the Sahara Desert every time you want some lunch… but this is no big deal for a fennec fox! They have extra thick tufts of hair on the underside of their feet to protect from the scorching heat and provide traction so they can scurry around without worry! 2

I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried running in sand before… and it wasn’t easy… or cute. But then again, humans weren’t really built for that!

But listen, it’s really all about those ears.

At first glance, you may look at a fennec fox and think that they just never grew into those oversized ears, when actually, they are a key piece of their survival tool kit!

Those big ears act almost like radar, by funneling sounds directly into the inner ear so the fox can locate their prey with exceptional accuracy. That’s not all they do, though: their ears also act as a body temperature regulator! I wish my ears did that!

To give us an up-close peek at these ears in action, here’s a lovely little video by BBC One!

Via: BBC 3

‌GAH! Aren’t they just the cutest?! Thank you, National Geographic, for making the wonders of nature available to us all! You can watch more videos about our amazing world by subscribing to Nat Geo’s YouTube channel here.

More than just a pretty face!

Now, a fennec fox’s good looks are equally practical and admirable. In addition to those tiny, adorable faces and exquisite ears, their fur is also an intentional part of nature’s design!

Life in the desert brings a wide range of temperatures. Their thick fur coats keep their tiny bodies insulated on those cool desert nights, and the light cream color helps reflect heat off of them during hot daytime hours!

All of these traits that make up the fennec fox aid in the hunt, as food can be very hard to come by in a desert landscape. Although they are mostly nocturnal, these A+ hunters will search for food any time of day. They’re not picky eaters either: they’re omnivores and will nom on anything, from lizards and locusts to birds and rodents!

And, since there’s not much water to be found in their natural habitat, they get almost 95% of their water from eating roots, leaves, and fruits. The rest of their water intake comes from licking the dew that forms inside their dens! 4 How resourceful!

So, what can we humans learn from the fennec fox?

You and I probably have more in common with these little guys than you might think. Firstly, they are very social creatures that like to talk and hang out in tight-knit groups. And secondly, they enjoy each other’s company and love to play, even as adults!

While we all have our own little cluster of adult human companions, how often do we actually play? And how often do we appreciate each other’s strengths? Sounds like it’s time to call up your best buddy for some good old-fashioned outdoor fun and frolic. (With masks, of course!)

Each of us has our own “big-eared” quality that makes us especially good at something.

If we nurture one another’s unique talents, perhaps it could make surviving less tricky, and thriving a bit easier!

Notice the way that you walk through this world and the special traits that you hold. The more that you’re able to lean into these unique bits of yourself, the more successful you will be in finding happiness.

Speaking of unique traits, there is so much we can learn by simply observing the other exceptional creatures in the world around us! Here are some of my favorite articles on what nature can teach us about living our best lives and owning what we bring to the table.

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Learning Life’s Gentle Lessons with the Seahorse Whisperer!

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Life Advice from the Slowest Mammal on Earth!

What can sloths teach us about dealing with the chaos of modern life? Here's a hilarious TED Talk that will have you becoming a champion of the sloth lifestyle for yourself.

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Keep dreaming and notice the beauty around you!

~Renee

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Notes:

  1. “Fennec Fox Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.” Seaworld.org, 2015, seaworld.org/animals/facts/mammals/fennec-fox/. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.
  2. https://www.facebook.com/Treehugger. “8 Fun Facts About the Fennec Fox.” Treehugger, 2020, www.treehugger.com/fun-facts-about-fennec-fox-4864231. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.
  3. BBC. “The Smallest Fox with the Biggest Ears! – Super Cute Animals: Preview – BBC One.” YouTube, 9 Feb. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCsklFdWGAI&feature=emb_title. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021,
  4. “Fennec Fox Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.” Seaworld.org, 2015, seaworld.org/animals/facts/mammals/fennec-fox/. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Outreach Coordinator

Renee is a graduate of FIDM, and has held jobs in several industries such as apparel manufacturing, retail, professional office work, and even hospitality! Her creative outlook, wide variety of experiences, and desire to notice the beauty around us make her a great addition to the EWC team!