Do Foxes Make Good Pets?
Although they're fun to look at, foxes should usually be left to live non-domesticated lives in their natural habitat.
In the past few years, the idea of owning a pet fox has been gaining traction. This is due in large part to a select few Instagram accounts run by people who own a fox and love showing it off on social media. Yes, they're super-cute and some can be very snuggly too! However, before you jump on the bandwagon and try to buy a fox of your own, there are a lot of things to consider. Keep reading to learn the answers to some common questions about fox ownership.
Are foxes generally high-energy or low-energy animals?
Foxes are very high-energy animals. They require a lot of space for running, playing, foraging and digging. If you own a few acres of land, this would be ideal for a fox. If not, he or she won't be happy.
Can foxes be housebroken?
In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. Foxes have an innate desire to mark their territory. To do so, they'll tear things up in their quest to find the perfect spot to "mark" with their urine and feces. Some fox owners have tried to get their pet fox to use an indoor litter box. Sometimes this can be successful, but they'll usually also urinate and defecate all over the rest of the house too. If you're considering getting a pet fox, an outdoor enclosure is absolutely necessary.
On top of this, fox urine is incredibly smelly -- much worse than dog or cat urine. Some say it resembles the smell of a skunk when it sprays. Plus, it's virtually impossible to wash out of carpet, fabric, furniture, etc.
Most mammals mark their territory with urine, and this can't be "trained out of them." Foxes are no exception.
What do foxes eat?
Foxes need to eat a lot of fresh meat, such as rabbits and mice. In addition, it is crucial that a fox's diet includes a good amount of taurine. If they don't get it, they can go blind, have seizures or even die. Good sources of taurine include chicken hearts, livers and gizzards.
In addition to these complex food requirements, foxes must be stimulated through the feeding process. Fox owners can't simply give their fox some food and leave them to eat it. Foxes have an inherent need to forage for their food. This means that fox owners need to hide their food and let them find it or put the food in something that the fox can rip apart to find their meal.
Are there different types of foxes?
Yes. There are two different kinds of domesticated foxes.
Fennec foxes are very small, cute and communicative, which is a main reason that they're very popular with fox owners. Red foxes are more reserved but can also be housepets. Other larger fox types definitely need much more time and housing outside, which means they typically can't become pets.
Do foxes sleep a lot?
No. Foxes are crepuscular, which means that they are most active during the twilight hours, in the evening and at night. If they don't have an outlet for their high energy at that time, they typically destroy anything in sight.
What kind of veterinary care do foxes need?
Because foxes are wild animals and they have very specific needs, regular veterinarians typically can't treat foxes. Instead, foxes must see a veterinary specialist when they need medical attention.
Can foxes be spayed and neutered?
Yes. Foxes can be spayed and neutered just like dogs and cats. Veterinarians recommend having this done at six months of age.
What if a pet fox bites someone?
It's very important not to bring your pet fox out in public. If you do and it bites someone, that person can report it. When that happens, the fox is euthanized so it can be tested for rabies. Medical and veterinary professionals are required to report fox bites to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How much does it cost to buy a fox?
The cost of a fox varies greatly. It can be as little as $500 or as much as $6,000. It's also important to keep in mind that this price is only for the animal itself. Feeding, housing and cleaning a fox adds up to much more.
How long does a fox live?
Foxes in captivity can live up to about 14 years. However, in the wild, foxes usually only live a few years.
Is it legal to own a fox?
Foxes are illegal to own in most states -- and animal rights activists are fighting to make this the law in all 50 states soon. In the states where it's still legal to own a fox, owners need to acquire a permit.
What do wild animal experts recommend about fox ownership?
If you talk to wild animal experts, you'll find some that some are OK with the idea of people owning foxes, but most strongly discourage it. Foxes require a lot of time, energy, money and expertise that most people simply don't have. People who have owned foxes in the past say that it's a full-time job.
Most animal advocacy groups strongly advise against keeping a fox as a pet. Although they're fun to look at, foxes should usually be left to live non-domesticated lives in their natural habitat.