Taronga Zoo is celebrating a birth from the world’s smallest fox species, with keepers monitoring the progress of a tiny Fennec Fox kit.
The curious kit was born on 3 December, but has just started to venture outside its nest box to the delight of keen-eyed visitors.
“The little one is beginning to spend a lot more time outdoors. We’re seeing it playing, rolling around on its back and chasing after mum and dad,” said keeper Deb Price.
Keepers are yet to name or confirm the sex of the kit, which is the first Fennec Fox born at Taronga since 2013. The infant is the seventh for experienced parents Kebili and Zinder, who have successfully raised two previous litters.
“The parents are doing a fantastic job again, with Zinder proving to be a particularly attentive dad. We’ve seen him filling up his mouth with food and then racing back to deliver it to the kit,” said Deb.
Born with its eyes closed and signature ears folded over, the kit has gone from being completely reliant on its parents to learning how to forage for food on its own.
The kit weighed in at 640 grams this week and has begun to sample solid foods such as crickets, mealworms and mice.
The smallest of all the world’s foxes, the Fennec Fox has enormous batlike ears that appear to be on loan from a much larger relative. These ears can grow to more than 15 centimetres in length and help the foxes to dissipate heat and keep cool in the desert sun of northern Africa.
They also have hairy feet that enable them to run on hot, loose sand and dig tunnels where they live and rear their kits.
Visitors will start to see Taronga’s Fennec Fox kit for brief periods each day, as it grows in confidence and continues to investigate the outside world under the watchful eyes of its parents and keepers.