1. Ensure you’re living in a legal state, and following all legal guidelines.
Every state has different legal requirements to owning a fox. Most states do not allow them at all. For the states that do, most require a license. You will also need to check county and city guidelines. When in doubt contact a local game warden for clarification. You can also refer to the map HERE.
2. Build an enclosure.
Before you bring your fox home, you will need to provide them with a secure enclosure. A fox will need at least 100sqft of space. The enclosure should be made with fencing that is at least 12g thick. We recommend welded wire, not chain link. It will need a full top, such as wire or a full roof to prevent climbing out, as well as a bottom to prevent digging out. Wire, paving stones, cement, and horse stall pads all work well to prevent digging. To make the enclosures more secure we recommend adding a double gate entry.
Some photos for examples below.
3. Find A Veterinarian.
Not all vets are able or willing to see and treat foxes. It is critical to find a vet able to provide care for your animals before bringing them home. It’s best to find at least two different vets, in case of emergency. Your fox will need yearly vaccinations, parasite prevention, health checks, and potentially even medical care for illness or injury. You don’t want to end up in a bad situation with no vet.
4. Fox Diet
Foxes need raw meat, organs, bones, plant matter, and eggs as part of a healthy diet. The amino acid Taurine is only found in RAW meat and organs. Without Taurine foxes can have seizures, go blind, and other serious health issues.
A typical fox’s diet consists of:
High quality grain free dog food such as Acanna, Instinct, Tender and True, or Merrick. Lean raw meat such as chicken, rodents, rabbit, and venison. Whole prey as often as possible, whole rodents are best for this as they can be easily purchased. Foxes need bone and organ in their diet to be healthy. raw organ is the best source of taurine. Foxes also need plant matter in their diet such as berries, squash, melon, and green beans. Each fox has their own preferences and you will need to experiment a little with what your fox likes. Eggs are another great item to feed your fox. They can be raw or cooked, in shell or out.
Why raw meat?
Cooking breaks down the essential nutrient taurine. If you must cook your foxes meat or cannot feed meat for some reason, their diet can be supplemented with taurine in powdered form. We also encourage feeding freeze dried raw dog kibble if you cannot feed actual raw. This can be purchsed from brands like Instinct and Tender and True.
Do not feed:
No Pork or bear-
This is due to them carrying a dangerous parasite called Trichinella. Most parasites are killed by freezing the meat, but trichinella can only be killed by thoroughly cooking the meat. Pork is also very high fat.
Beef as well as pork are very high fat. Beef can be fed in small amounts but should be mostly avoided. The high fat content can lead to health issues such as pancreatitis.
No cooked bones nor weight bearing bones. Cooked bones will splinter and crack causing intestinal rips. Weight bearing bones are to hard and will crack teeth. An example is cow leg bones. Machine cut bones should also be avoided.
No cat food. This is a common mistake for fox owners. People believe because cat food contains taurine it should be fed to foxes. Cat food is to high in calories and does not contain the proper nutritional value for a fox. Cat food has been known to lead to severe kidney issues over time and even total renal failure in foxes.
5. FOXES STINK
It is critical that you understand that foxes stink. All true foxes, foxes that belong to the Vulpes genus will have a strong musky skunk like odor.
This will make the environment around them stink. The odor will linger on you and your home even with obsessive cleaning.
Can foxes be descented like a skunk or ferret?
Firstly because their odor does not come from a single gland but from several all over their bodies including the bottom of their feet, their cheeks, under their tail; etc.
One of the main glands in foxes, the violet gland is found on the upper surface of the tail. Due to its role in steroidhormonemetabolism (and possibly reproduction), foxes cannot be "de-scented" by removing this gland.
It’s debatable if it’s even humane to descent skunks.
6. Behavior, Training, and Discipline.
Foxes are extremely sensitive animals. They should only ever be trained with positive reinforcement. Training using methods that involve punishment can cause the fox to react extremely and ruin your bond. Foxes hold grudges, if you mess up your bond, there is a big chance you’ll never be able to rebuild it.
Foxes are not domestic pets. They were domesticated as fur bearing animals. Because of this they do not have the same traits our domestic pets do that cause them to have the urge to please their owners. This can make training them very difficult. Foxes only do things if they want to, and usually only for a high value reward.
Using high value treats is usually a great way to entice foxes to learn.
You cannot expect a fox to potty train. Foxes have an extremely strong urge to mark their territory. Even when spayed and neutered this does not go away. Often they can be taught to use a litter box or potty pads when they are kits, but as they age this behavior goes away. Around their first fall of life they will begin to make more often and may completely stop using their litter box. Because of this they don’t make good house pets.
Foxes are extremely destructive. They will dog holes in beds, walls, couches, and doors. If they want something they will take it and they will destroy it. High dollar electronics peed on, tables chewed on, counters and stoved pooped on. This is just a few of the reasons why foxes should be provided a secure outdoor enclosure. Some people do like to bring their foxes indoors at times, but they should only be allowed inside when being monitored.
Check out the video below from SaveAFox about living with indoor foxes!
Why are foxes surrendered?
Everyone sees a cute baby fox, or a beautiful adult fox and thinks to themself they would LOVE to have a pet fox too.
Unfortunately, if someone does not heavily research foxes as pets, they almost always end up rehomed or even let “free” before they are even a year old.
There are a million and one reasons why a fox may not be a good fit for most homes, but below is a list of the most common reasons people get rid of their new foxes:
1: “they are stinky”.
Foxes smell very similar to skunks.
2: “they won’t potty train.”
Foxes have a strong urge to mark even when fixed and will pee and POOP on things to claim them. Even YOU.
3: “they are destructive”
As den digging animals they will dig holes in your furniture and walls.
4: “they don’t get along with our pets”
Just like all animals, foxes don’t always get along with other pets.
5: “we’re moving”
Only 14 states allow foxes as pets. These states each have their own strict laws for having them as pets, and some ban you from importing them from certain states.
6: “we had a baby”
Many people find their lives too busy for pets once they have children.
7: “they bite”
Foxes communicate with their mouths. They bite and nibble and chew all the time. Even when happy they are usually biting on you.
8: “they are too loud”
Foxes are loud. They make over 20 different vocalizations most of which could be described as SCREAMING.
9: “they are illegal here, we didn’t know”
More often than you’d think, pet foxes end up in illegal states where the owners cannot seek bet care and will be heavily fined and the fox confiscated when they get caught.
10: “we don’t have enough time”
Foxes are animals that you need to have a couple of hours a day, minimum to dedicate to spending time with them and caring for them. But this is usually just an excuse.
Basically, this all boils down to owners not doing enough research. To be prepared you must thoroughly research their personality, care, and other needs. You cannot trust breeders. While some breeders do care and will tell the truth, unfortunately, the majority only care to get money in their pockets and will lie through their teeth to make the sale.
Foxes are a 10-15 year loud, stinky, and destructive commitment.
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