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Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Widespread in northern Africa

(Asa et al. 2004; Wacher et al. 2015)

  • Found in sandy deserts and other arid regions of northern Africa (Coetzee 1977; Harrison and Bates 1991; Asa and Cuzin 2013)
  • Unclear if fennec fox occur outside of African continent (e.g., Arabian Peninsula) (Cunningham 2004; Asa and Cuzin 2013; Wacher et al. 2015)
    • Sometimes confused for Rüppell’s fox (Vulpes rueppellii)
  • Considered less common near permanent human settlements (Asa and Cuzin 2013)

Historic distribution

  • Same as current distribution, except Sahara in northern Morocco (Cuzin 1996; Asa et al. 2004)
    • Permanent human settlements in 1960s caused four local extirpations



  • Well adapted for deserts; can live independently of water sources (e.g., Gauthier-Pilters 1967; Noll-Banholzer 1979b; Schmidt-Nielsen 1979)
    • Annual rainfall typically less than 100 mm (4 in) per year (Asa et al. 2004; Asa and Cuzin 2013)
      • Southern edge of distribution: up to 300 mm (12 in)
    • Also see “Drinking” in Feeding
  • Tolerate a wider range of habitats, compared to other canids (Wacher et al. 2015; Karssene, Chammem, et al. 2019)
    • Tolerate drier habitats (Burruss 2014)
    • Burrow in more sandy substrates
  • Capable of living in remote desert areas with no or sparse vegetation (Cuzin 2003, as cited by Asa and Cuzin 2013; Asa et al. 2004)
    • Some found in coastal dunes on Atlantic coast (Brito et al. 2009; Wacher et al. 2015)

Habitat preferences

  • Ideal habitat thought to be stable sand dunes (Coetzee 1977)
    • Typically, the only canid (fox-dog-wolf family) in large sand dune habitats (Wacher et al. 2015)

Fennec Fox Distribution

Distribution of Fennec Fox

Fennec foxes are found across much of northern Africa.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here for detailed distribution information (IUCN).

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