A note about the fox...

Many of my site visitors are already aware that I have many, many, many pets.  I've photographed them, and discussed them, and even included them in my 'apartment tour', so by now I think that anyone visiting my site probably knows them fairly well.  In fact, I believe the only people that aren't familiar with my pets would be the visitors who head straight for the 'boobie' photos, and those people aren't going to be reading this journal entry anyhow, heh.  Anyway, as the owner of so many pets (eight cats, four fish, two birds, three chinchillas, and a fox, in case you've lost track or were too busy looking at boobie photos)... anyway, as the owner of so many pets, I am constantly trying to educate myself about them better so that I can provide them with more suitable care.  So, to make the long beginning of a long story short (it's okay, I was done with the beginning anyway), I spent a day researching fennec foxes.  After much googling and more than a few yahoos, I finally found a website with some scientific, factual information and did what I could to apply that same information to my own fennec fox, Degama (she came to me with this name, so I can't provide a translation).

Fennec foxes are apparently from the class 'Mammalia', the order 'Carnivora', the family 'Canidae', and the genus and species 'Vulpes (Fennecus) zerda'.  Being of the canidae family, fennecs happen to be the smallest of all wild canines.  Degama herself is only three and a half pounds, which made an incident the other week where she managed to fit my friend's entire big toe in her mouth just that much more remarkable.  What was yet even more remarkable than that was the fact that Gary waved his toe in her general vicinity after I warned him several times that she was an evil and vicious biting machine.  Pfft.  I now keep her separated from the viewing public with a baby gate placed strategically in my bedroom doorway, although none of my friends with children are aware of this (they are still under the impression that their children can't possibly visit due to the risk of cranky fox bitings).

The natural range of a fennec fox in the wild consists of Northern Africa, across the Sahara, the Sinai Peninsula and also Arabia.  Fennecs are desert animals, burrowing in the sand with such ease (and speed) that the native desert people used to believe that they had a magical ability to become invisible.  The domestic range of a fennec fox living in my apartment, on the other hand, consists of my bedroom closet, under the bed, the light (and easily stained) portions of my living room area rug, and a small heating pad near the window.  Have no doubt, however, that her native skills are going to waste... she burrows into the sandy environment of the litter box at least three or four times a day, especially when it hasn't been cleaned yet.

Degama after a bath...

In the wild, a fennec fox will eat large insects like beetles and locusts, small rodents, lizards and occasionally birds.  They also sometimes eat some plant material, when available, like berries and succulent leaves.  In a zoo or sanctuary environment, a fennec fox will eat a commercially prepared canine diet, plus the odd freshly killed mice or chicks (and some fruit).  In the Julia's apartment environment, amazingly enough, a very specific (and troublesome) fennec fox will not hesitate to completely shun the carefully prepared canine diet (which was shipped at great expense in quantities of no less than fifty pounds from very far away) and eat only domestic dog food (although I've managed to use a very high quality, well-balanced brand).  Luckily, I've also had much success with small quantities of multi-grain breads and of course a healthy amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.

I've heard that pets will sometimes take after their owners, and apparently Degama knows what she should not eat (in much the same way that I know I should not eat a chicken garlic pizza with creamy ranch sauce, you know?).  Within a week of her arrival here she had racked up over a thousand dollars in veterinary bills because she opened a latched cupboard and a closed container in order to eat nearly two cups of raisins (grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and can cause both kidney and liver failure over long term use).  I tell the chinchillas every night that Degama is the reason raisins are no longer kept in the house, but I'm pretty sure they still blame me.  Not only that, but I am forced to vigorously guard any caffeinated beverage that I happen to be drinking... in the past, Degama has vaulted across tables and viciously attacked innocent armchairs in an effort to reach a near empty can of sugar free Red Bull.  And just this evening, even, she waited until exactly two seconds after I answered the telephone to hunt and kill the remnants of my strawberry cheesecake ice cream (and it was Haagen Dazs... sigh!).

Back to the research... everything I found on the web indicated not only that fennecs frequently cache their food for future use, but also that they will remember each individual cache site exactly.  Well, that may be the case, but it didn't say anything about them ever going back to that cache site and actually eating the food that they've stored.  I probably wouldn't even wonder at such a statement, except for the fact that I can't put my foot in a pair of shoes without stepping on a dried up green bean or bread crumb.  I also find the shriveled remnants of her dinner in my bed, on my keyboard, behind my comic books, and in my underpants drawer.  On the plus side, at least her diet doesn't include dead mice or birds, yes?

Speaking of underpants, Degama has a lovely habit of pulling my underpants out of the dirty laundry hamper, waving them in the air, shrieking like a banshee, and streaking through the apartment with them.  As if that weren't scandalous enough, she takes every opportunity (after her big display, of course) of presenting said underpants to any houseguest I might have at the moment.  Very classy.  Certainly a conversation starter, and definitely useful when I need a change of subject (although I could use a nice topic for the appalling silence that occurs immediately after such an event).

Degama and her "I promise I

won't bite you!" face...

One of the sites I discovered proclaims that a fennec's "vocalizations are many and varied".  This is an understatement.  Imagine, if you will, the little dog-creature Fizgig from 'The Dark Crystal'.  Now imagine that Fizgig is channeling the spirits of both Fran Drescher and some kind of scrappy pirate parrot from the 1600s.  Also, this small canine alien is suffering from PMS and has possibly stubbed it's toe, while auditioning for the big finale scene from Les Miserables.  This is the sound that Degama makes all the time.  She uses it to say, "look at me", "don't look at me", "the cat is looking at me", "I'm looking at the cat", "I want to bite you", "I just bit you", "I'm going to bite you after my nap", and possibly "I love you" although this could just be wishful thinking on my part.  Degama is the only pet I've ever had that required me to explain to every single visitor that I was not, in fact, experimenting with methods of horrible secret fox torture and that she sounds like that all the time.

Finally, a website belonging to the Chaffee Zoological Gardens in Fresno explains that "Fennecs are rare in the first place, but they are extirpated by native desert peoples for unknown reasons."  Not that I would wish Degama any harm, and I'm definitely glad to have her as part of my little family, but I have to say that there are days when I know where those desert people are coming from.  'Unknown reasons' my arse.  Pfft.  I am now envisioning random desert peoples (in my head they all look like Lawrence of Arabia, and everything they say appears on a silent-movie dialogue sign with fancy embellishments and vintage film grain) facing random fennec foxes, which are screaming and growling and biting the toes of harem girls while waving their Arabian underpants under the noses of distinguished foreign visitors (and floating above the heads of the harem girls are thought bubbles containing fur stoles and fox bikinis).  Well, that's what I'm envisioning now that I've looked up what 'extirpated' means, anyway.  I'm not disclosing what I thought was going on before I looked it up, heh.