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Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

For species less common than reds and arctics.

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Katalyst
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Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby Katalyst » Sat Nov 26, 2016 8:59 am

This is currently slightly pie in the sky as I'm not 100% sure where I'll end up...
I'm selling my house and with any luck, sale will complete by February. When this happens, I hope to settle somewhere with a decent garden and space to add another couple of mammals. I currently keep three red foxes and a skunk and have worked with and kept various exotics for the better part of 15 years.

I've been eyeing up fennecs for years and there's a potential that next year, dream can become reality.

Can those of you who keep fennecs please showcase your enclosures, enrichment and diets?

Any useful information regarding care is gratefully received.
Red foxes, skunks, tanuki and domestic dogs.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby TamanduaGirl » Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:01 pm

Welcome. Just in case you haven't seen it yet. Here's my care sheet http://sybilsden.com/caresheet/fennec.htm

And my cage thread viewtopic.php?f=110&t=12988

And my FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/FennecFoxPets/

Though we want tons of fennec chat here of course. Glad to have more fennec people posting again.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby Ash » Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:15 pm

Aaw, I love fennecs and I too would want to see more owners out there so that we can get more info. Especially with lots of the dietary info being researched nowadays (mostly by TamanduaGirl), I want to see how that affects them.

Welcome again, lol. It's always exciting when you think you might finally be ready for an animal.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby Katalyst » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:00 pm

Cheers guys, it's nice to be back :)

The more reading I do and the more I think on it, the more I'd like to try a slightly different approach to their care because a lot of what I read I'm rather dubious about (suggestions of fairly high levels of fruit or kibble)
I'd like to offer full spectrum UVB lighting to replicate wild light cycles and an almost exclusively invertebrate diet with only occasional rabbit or other protein source.
My thoughts are to offer a good sized enclosure with a range of slimming and digging opportunities. There's a product called "excavator clay" which will remain stable when burrowed into and I reckon that'd be fab.

I'm crossing all of my fingers that I can make this happen next year.

Any suggestions gratefully received.
Red foxes, skunks, tanuki and domestic dogs.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby TamanduaGirl » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:22 pm

I was thinking about UVB lights too. I don't get natural sunbeams in my room for one to bask in and the vit D helps with bringing the calcium to the bones and could be one of the factors in their easy bone breakage along with my suspecting high levels of Retinol being part of that as well.

Also been brainstorming in this thread from about here on viewtopic.php?f=111&t=12830&start=15#p124048

Mine will have it's wheel and a sand box and some card board scratchers to dig at. Young ones take to the wheel idea pretty easy but older ones tend to find it too scary to learn. Fennecs aren't so great about accepting new things. The clay sounds interesting, assuming it doesn't eat it(I would assume most wouldn't though).

One enrichment that's neat is a container with a hole on a string so it has to jump up for the treats or kibble to be knocked out. Lots of exercise. That way. I would only do that supervised though just in case it gets too excited and somehow gets tangled up. Like this but I don't think he gets any out in the video so they maybe had too small of a hole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck3PJmHUriA
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dmarksvr
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby dmarksvr » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:06 am

Definitely check out the thread Tamandua linked to if you haven't already... I was one that was feeding mostly high quality kibble, which was for the most part a vast improvement over the breeders recommended friskies cat food and/or average quality dog food, and initially cut out most of her insects because I didn't really see a "magic ingredient" they had vs other food sources, but didn't take into account their low Vit A/retinol levels and now that but Tamandua has clued me into the potential retinol issues: I'm changing the kibble portion of Echo's diet to one of the highest quality cat foods with lowest retinol (Instinct ultimate protein) to reflect that. I knew of potential retinol issues in reptiles and amphibians, but didn't realize it may carry over to foxes. I thought as a mammal they'd be able to use whatever Vit A and it wouldn't matter much, but it seems it may and also with both being highly insectivorous (which don't have much Vit A) that makes sense in hindsight.

The dog version of instinct ultimate protein has even less retinol then the cat version, but it's larger chunks and while they list taurine in the ingredients they don't say how much like in the cat version. So because of the smaller kibble size and known taurine I thought the cat version was an ok compromise. You could go with the dog version and maybe add some taurine if the fox doesn't mind the larger kibble size. There is a small dog version of the ultimate protein that would be more suitable kibble size, but for some reason a lot more Vit A is added to that formula. The specifics of Echo's new diet are in the thread Tamandua linked to.

I've also played with the idea of adding UVB for Echo over the years, but as she has an entire bedroom with an eight foot ceiling and linoleum floor so that makes implementing it problematic. I'm pretty active in the reptile/amphib hobby and am one of the better known people on Dendroboard.com for Dart frogs (Dendro Dave). I've been in that hobby for over 10 years and am pretty well versed on UVB. Here are some things to consider when trying to add UVB to an enclosure...

1. The fall off of the UVB intensity the further you get away from the light source is almost exponential. So if your light isn't within 20in from the animal or 100's or 1000's of watts in power you loose most of the benefit... a few inches can matter a lot.

2. Over 90% of UVB is blocked by most standard glass or acrylic. Star fire glass is probably the best at letting UVB pass through that is easy to find, or OP 4 acrylic, but If memory serves star fire glass is better. I don't think either allows 100% transmission, but it's better then regular glass or acrylic. Generally a mesh/screen top or section is considered the best way to make sure UVB is getting to the animal. UVA mostly passes through glass and is bounced around inside your house. UVC is very bad... you don't want that.

3. For a Fennec fox keeping the power cord out of reach and the outlet from being a potential danger is an issue, (all the outlets in Echo's room are child proofed FYI). In winter I run a small heater in there but it is inside a cage and positioned so that the heater, cord and outlet are all out of reach.

At least for reptiles that are nocturnal; they generally adapt to not having the vit D3 from the sun. Not sure how much this is the case in a Fennec but in nocturnal geckos and stuff it is generally considered not to be needed. Also not sure if the Vit D added to foods we'd feed our fox contains part of that Vit D as D3... If it does then there is likely little to no need to use UVB. Rep-Cal Calcium with Vitamin D3 (Phosphorous Free) might be worth dusting the insect portion of your Foxe's diet with, and since it doesn't add phosphorous should keep the overall Calcium/phos ratio of the the entire diet in check. There is also a good one called calcium plus from Repashy that has the D3 but it also adds in some other vitamins (Vit A as Beta Carotene which is better then retinol and Adds Turmeric I see which Tam suggested as something to add for a fox). That one might serve as a good general purpose supplement powder if moving away from a vitamin fortified kibble. I don't think either of these add BHT (potentially harmful last I heard) which I saw listed in Vionate which has been suggested for foxes. While these were originally developed for reptiles/amphibs, I'm not aware of any reason why they wouldn't serve a fox (more then welcome to correct that assumption though).

4. There is some risk vs reward to be aware of when adding UV to an animal's enclosure. UVA is likely already present and a UVB light adds more. UV in general can harm their eyes, and there are other potential health risks if they are over exposed. Also If memory serves I believe at least in the case of ferrets there is some evidence that not enough total darkness decreased life span. If that is the case; seems plausible it may apply to Fennecs as well, so a timer would be a good idea with 12 hours of darkness a night.

For a fennec kept in a small enclosure part of the day and given a den inside there; adding some good reptile UVB lamps probably would wouldn't be much of a hassle or health risk and may have health benefits. Probably not very feasible or pragmatic it would be in a larger or excessively tall enclosure unless you replaced the room's window with star fire glass. I think the most pragmatic thing to do would be to just add some Calcium D3 powder or a broader general supplement with D3 like the Repashy calcium Plus to their insect diet especially if it is determined that the Vit D in other foods isn't of the right type. As kibbles are supplemented with Calcium and most Insects have an unfavorable Cal/phos ratio without supplementation: I'd think that it should pretty much balance out when adding the powder to the insects. There seems to be some argument over the dangers and usefulness of the different vit D forms. Here is an excerpt from webMD...

"The recommended form of vitamin D is vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. This is the natural form of vitamin D that your body makes from sunlight. Supplements are made from the fat of lambs' wool. However, a clinical study reported in 2008 suggested that vitamin D2 works as well as vitamin D3." ...(but I noticed that in the google results there was mention of D2 as being potentially harmful)
http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/featu ... -d-is-best

Repcal link...
http://www.repcal.com/supp.htm (Don't think it has BHT but may wanna verify. In the small quantities they'd get using it as a supplement vs a kibble it may not be much of an issue eithe way)
Repashy link...
http://www.store.repashy.com/calcium-plus-4-oz-bag.html (I'm pretty sure the Vit A is all or at least mostly beta carotene as retinol is an issue in herps but to be extra safe may wanna verify. Herp cal would be the safest bet if your confident the animal is getting it's other vitamins in it's diet.

I usually have Calcium D3 powder on hand to supplement my dart frogs so I may try that out with Echo's bugs. I've been meaning to get her one of those cardboard scratchers and keep forgetting. I also like that Dangling treat enrichment Idea, so i'll put those things on the to do list :)

Lastly...

I know of the Zoomed Excavator clay and did use that in one of my vivariums. I don't know if there is a bulk source that would be cheaper but if not it would be extremely expensive to add to a fox enclosure in useful amounts. Also requires adding water to make the tunnels and sets up after it dries out. I think a fennec would love it if you could get enough of it as they could probably dig through it even after it set up... would be a mess though if not in a sand box or kiddy pool area.

Cork rounds and dried leaves (both available from many reptile/amphib vivarium supply sellers) might be other enrichment ideas. I think they even make pet ball pits like Chucky cheese had for kids... that might be worth doing too.

Hope this is helpful...
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby TamanduaGirl » Wed Nov 30, 2016 4:08 pm

So my ceiling LEDs are giving me no UV, darn. I was thinking to have a basking light with UVB and heat for a couple hours a day could just put it in front of the heater if needed. Fennecs are opportunistically crepuscular. Where weather allows and people are scarce they are happy to be out during the cool parts of the day but are out just at night to avoid things like too much heat or people around. And pet fennecs seem to really enjoy basking in a sunbeam but I don't get any direct sunlight in my room.

Vitamin D 0.82IU/G of food(in this case the diet studied was seafood based) is recommended for growing foxes to prevent rickets, however extra D did not prevent rickets when the cal/phos ratio was off. So yes diet D is probably enough in the right amounts.

I first became aware of issues with retinol due to tamandua's having a remarkably low need for the stuff. A high retinol diet in them showed spinal changes in just a month's time but physical symptoms don't show till years later. One I 'knew" from online died at 9 due to having to be put down due to paralysis from spinal issues from being fed cat food all her life.

There are similar issues with retinol being a large part of MBD in opossums too.

Obviously retinol isn't quite as dire in foxes but reds, who have been researched, have a pretty low need for retinol(compared to cats) and fennecs would have even less need due to their high insect diet. But you wont see outward symptoms till their later years from chronic over ingestion of retinol, unless outright overdosing, and by the time you see symptoms not much can be done. There have been some fennecs with either proven spinal changes from x-rays or showing symptoms of it but not x-rayed, though not as common as kidney and liver issues and broken bones which all can be associated with a diet too high in retinol. So while circumstantial the evidence is heavily in favor of the current captive fennec diet being too high in retinol.

Don't know why they up the retinol in the small dog. Heck domestic pets could be at some risk from too much too though they do have higher needs than foxes. One dog food brand I checked had 65KIU/kg for all their dog foods! In fact a friends chihuahua in her senior years had issues with spinal lesions in her neck which I of course suspected was due to diet. She was mostly on home foods in the early days of home made diets and may have gotten too many organ meats. You know how dogs love liver, doesn't mean they should be getting tons of it regularly though. Not a very common issue in dogs though since most don't go super high. Does make it something worth checking though as that food I mentioned I'd never want to give to my dog.

The darkness factor is likely largely a melatonin issue. Whether diurnal or nocturnal an animal produces their melatonin at night. Any exposure to light can turn off that production. Melatonin is an important anti-oxidant and is important in a large number of bodily processes. People who work nights, like night nurses have much higher incidents of cancer and dying younger as well due to this. Red lights are a sorta exception though as the redder the light the less the body reacts. That's why nocturnal animals at most zoos are shown only under red lights.

I do get some light in my room from the street light but it's not much so do have a reddish orange night light to hopefully not mess up the body's processes too much. I also take some melatonin myself before bed and it stopped most of my migraines.

Fennecs have not shown to be interested in ball pits but I think this is mainly due to the size of the balls. Maybe if you made one with colored ping pong balls instead they would like it better. Putting treats down in the balls can help too.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby dmarksvr » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:57 am

Nope sorry most LEDs don't give off any UV. They make some that do, but so far the production costs and difficulty sourcing them have kept them out of reptile light market which is where we'd mainly look to find something like that. Perhaps if/when they ever make consumer LED based UVB reptiles lighting or tanning booths we'll get access a decent UVB LED solution. Also one of the difficulties in making a UVB led fixture is that LED lights tend to emit a much narrower wavelength range of light compared to fluorescent or incandescent sources. They've managed to create LEDs that give off a range of the wavelengths for the most useful and profitable area (White light), but A fluorescent bulb gives a much wider range of the color spectrum without special modification and most put out some UVA, and then can be made to emit useful levels of UVB or even UVC in the case of lamps used for sterilization. So the current problem that makes UVB LEDs less then practical other then cost is so far is the available UV led bulbs tend to emit one wavelength of uvb, or a very small range of just a few nanometers within just a couple nanometers, maybe up to a 5nm range.

The range of UVB is 280 to 315 nm, and you could find a bulb that worked at 310 nm or another specific number probably, but then the rest of the range would be neglected and last I knew it is known or perhaps just believed that you needed to cover a significant part of the range to be most effective for metabolic processes. So to approach the usefulness of a fluorescent source you'd probably want at least 3 different types of UVB LED diodes in the fixture (and several of each type) so you could hit say 290, 300, and 310 nm. To date the only LED fixture that I've heard will use UVB diodes is the built in fixture included with the automated BIOPOD vivariums that were launched on KIckstarter over a year ago. I'm till waiting on my order to ship BTW :wall: ).

One thing that might work if you wanted to add UVB is to setup a UVB basking spot over their Food and water bowl. You could make an overhang that they stood under when eating/drinking with the UVB source say 6-12 inches above them mounted on the underside.The time spent eating/drinking under the light would probably provide some benefit, and the overhang could also serve as a raised platform for them to jump on/of or set a cat den or something. I'd run the cord through some PVC pipe to the outlet, and maybe put a wire mesh protector over the light fixture itself just to be extra safe. To that you couple probably just stable gun them mesh to the underside of the overhang so that it covered the bulbs. There may be benefits to some UVB exposure beyond the D3 synthesis, but overall I think in most cases a D3 supplement is gonna be the easiest and most cost effective option to implement. If I remember right zoomed markets a "UVB LED combo hood" and the way they market it might lead some to believe the UVB actually comes from the LEDs but it is actually from the fluorescent socket. I think some have mistakenly believed that the all LED version of the hood also has UVB and it doesn't and doesn't have the socket to add a UVB producing fluorescent tube like the combo version.

I think I've only seen Echo lay in a sunbeam through the window in her room was when house was cooler then she'd probably have preferred.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby Ash » Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:49 pm

Only certain lights have UV in them which is why reptile owners are always needing to replace bulbs. Not as easy as going to the store and picking something up, it has to be a specific type of light--which makes it annoying. Especially since UV bulbs decay over time (some brands way faster than others) and need to be replaced even if they haven't necessarily burnt out/stopped emitting light.

In the lizard community, it's the Mega-Ray brand of UV that is considered number one. I would recommend that over everything else except for direct sunlight. The Mega-Ray is apparently better than the competitors and the best out there (according to research done by an acquaintance of mine--he put a list of all the popular reptile UV bulbs together and compared, and Mega-Ray out competes them all). They also produce heat which would provide your fennec with a nice spot to lay down and rest. You'd want to make sure to get one that didn't get as hot of course since you wouldn't want it to be too hot for your fennec--although distance has to do with that too (distance also affects UV intake though too).

If you go to their website they answer all the questions and have more specifics. http://www.reptileuv.com/mega-ray-product-questions.php?nav=h
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby TamanduaGirl » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:05 pm

Okay. Well the LEDs said full spectrum but I guess it's full except for UV then. I was thinking of getting a uv sun lamp for myself as it's so hard to get going in the mornings this time of year and have low D levels even on supplements, but it would be cheaper to buy a good reptile light and put it on a timer for myself, lol. The fennec probably wont really need one but maybe he'll bask with me in the the mornings if I get one.

That would be great bonding time. :lol: You could get a nice tan too.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby dmarksvr » Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:04 am

Ya "full spectrum" and "daylight" labeling on bulbs is kinda misleading. It generally refers to the fact that the light is somewhere in the 5000-7000 Kelvin range, (usually 6500K).This is supposed to approximate what the white light from the sun would look like at noon on a sunny day. It also means that the light has decent amounts of the red/blue parts of the spectrum which are the wavelengths of white light that plants use for photosynthesis. Greenlight appears brightest to human eyes, but plants don't do much with it and in fact reflect it. Some evidence they utilize UV but generally considered not needed in plants, but interestingly in some plants does cause something like "freckles" or pigment changes in the leaf, (Bromeliads for example). I'll spare you lecture about PAR needs of plants/corals, and output of bulbs since that's photosynthesis related and doesn't really apply here, and I'm about to launch into a further tangent on lighting in general.... :egeek:

Most incandescent bulbs that people use in their home are around 2300-4000 Kelvin which appears more yellow or orangish. Now they make LED bulbs that work in both those Color temp ranges but they don't put out the UV. Now fluorescents will put out UVA but I think the only common ones that put any UVB other then reptile bulbs are blacklights, Tanning booth bulbs, and possibly bug lights and actinic aquarium lights, but the reptile bulbs are designed to do it so are probably the better choice at least as far as florescents go. Oh and BTW when you see "warm" or "cool" on a bulbs box that is referring to the Kelvin range. Most things under 4000k are considered warm, and most things over and up to 8000k would be considered "cool" or sometimes "neutral" is used, but that I think usually means the bulb is in the 5000-5800k range.

I forgot about mercury vapor and metal halide UVB bulbs, like Ash linked to. I've never used a merc vape bulb so I'm not sure of heat output, but I think it's high, and metal Halide is usually high. IF attempting to add UVB to an entire room or large fox enclosure those would probably be the way to go... just don't cook the animal because those things are probably gonna be like running small space heaters in the room ;) Which might actually be plus in some circumstances, but in a confined space, without adequate venting or when it's already hot in the room could be a negative.

Oh and there are the "light therapy" fixtures out there, but given the outrageous price they often charge I'd just make my own with some Reptile bulbs or a replacement bulb for a tanning booth (if those don't cost an arm and a leg). LED based light therapy bulbs should effect circadian rhythms, but shouldn't do anything for D3 synthesis unless some manufactures have started using UVB leds in them, but even then they'd probably hit only one or a few parts of the UVB spectrum, and thus be less then ideal.

I think a Human only needs about 15min a day of light therapy if memory serves and that kinda limited exposure from a reptile bulb should be pretty safe if not to close to the skin and eyes, but been a long time since I read up on that. I'd assume for a partially nocturnal mammal they wouldn't need more then us and would probably get by fine on less, but not sure how fur effects UV absorption, (I'll skip googles scholar for now). Franky I could probably use one after years working swing/grave shifts at casinos, being a night person anyways, and also being an antisocial hermit that is inside so much of the last few years. I actually hate the daytime now, unless I'm up to go fishing ;)

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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby TamanduaGirl » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:06 am

I think it's 15min full sun... if you're naked :D

My one issue is that the CFLs gave me migraines, so that's why I have LEDs in my room, the plus is they really do last for years. So maybe what Ash linked to would be the thing but if hot like that never on when I'm not right there, which if using for me would be pointless anyway.

Guess we kinda did go off on a tangent about lighting but some good info there to help decide if a person wants to use it for their fox and what kind if they do.
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Re: Fennec Owners... Let's have a chat....

Postby dmarksvr » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:09 pm

Maybe that's why I stay inside... Wouldn't wanna traumatize the neighbors :twisted:

Migraines from CFLs? ...That's odd: wonder if it might have to do with the color temp (Kelvin). Fluorescents I think are known to give off a hum sometimes, so maybe it's auditory? ...I have this weird thing where I can often feel/hear (I can't tell which) if electronics are on, especially if a TV is on even from outside a room and the tv is mute with no picture. In school I used to be able to tell if we'd be watching a film from a good 5 feet or more from the classroom door even with kids making commotion in the hall and/or class. It became kinda like a soothing white noise that I usually wasn't conscience of but would miss if it wasn't there and the room was silent... Needless to say I watch a lot of TV ;)

We'll I'm all outta tangents for now, but sooner or later I'll probably be back with more :roll:

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