5 min read

Meet The Pretty Little Animal With The World's Greatest Ears

We might as well just dispense with an introduction to this story.

After all, why bother with an opening when you'll likely ignore it and just descend immediately into oohs and ahhs and coos and miscellaneous murmurings?

This is your brain on fennec fox.

OK. Once you've come back from Narnia, there are a few things you might like to know about the fantastic mini fox.

For one thing, it's rare to spy one in the wild. Not even with those ears. They haunt the sparsely inhabited Sahara. Not only that, but fennec foxes are entirely devoted to the nightlife. They eat (mostly plants, but do have a sweet tooth for rodent), mate (by all accounts an assertive little love machine) and dig (their underground chambers are grand, intricate affairs) at night.

In fact, virtually every inch of the fennec fox's body was built for the desert - even the fact that when they do find a mate, they stick with them for life. Who wants to be alone in the desert?

Let's start with those giant ... feet. (Don't worry, we'll get to the ears.)

They're big for a reason - and that reason is digging. In a single night, those shovel-like feet can carve out extensive tunnels. We can only imagine the breathtaking underground architecture the world will never see.

It's all, of course, in the name of keeping cool in those sun-scorched climes. That's also why those feet are so thickly padded and covered in hair - perfect for hot-footing it around the desert.

Which brings us to the question you may have skipped to the bottom of this article for - and that we've kindly marked in bold as a courtesy.

Little fox, how did you get those ears?

On average, they're about 6 inches long. Compare that to the rest of their body, which ranges in length from 10 to 16 inches.

The fennec fox is all ears for one very good reason. They act as radiators, regulating the fox's body temperature and dissipating excessive heat. Simply put, they keep our little desert dweller cool even when the sun is screaming obscenities from the heavens.

But they also amp up the fennec fox's adorability factor. And that brings its own kind of heat.

Increasingly fennec foxes are being dug up for zoo exhibits and the pet trade. You'll find them anywhere from zoos in Edmonton, Canada and San Diego, California to (sadly) Craigslist.

Sometimes, adorable comes at a steep price.

The fennec fox isn't used to interacting with humans. In fact, everything we love about the fennec fox is owed to his desert home.

It's that stunning genetic symbiosis - the great digging feet, the thick coat designed for night-time chills and, yes, those radiator ears.

So why not leave them there? And gawk and gush and goo-goo from the lofty and relatively harmless heights of social media.

Want to learn more more about the fennec fox?

Check out National Geographic's stunning take on this ghost of the desert.