Foxes & People
Foxes as Pets

Let´s face it... if you´ve read this far, you´ve probably toyed with the idea at some time or another. They are sooo cute, and it would be cool to have one around. Unfortunately, keeping foxes as pets is an almost universally bad idea. In his Urban Fox Ecology web site, T. Susman outlines several reasons why the average person should not attempt to keep a fox. Some of the reasons I´ve heard of to steer clear include:

1) Foxes aren´t especially sociable. They may allow petting and brushing from people they are familiar with, and some owners claim they are capable of showing affection. Nevertheless they don´t accept a great deal of cuddling, and don´t like being picked up. They can be potentially vicious to strangers, especially children.
2) Foxes can be destructive. Apparently, they love digging up yards or through floors and walls, and are perfectly capable of shredding furniture and other household items.
3) Foxes can smell bad. Neutering the animal and removing it´s scent glands does nothing about the powerful odour from their urine. They´re also virtually impossible to house train, so the odour is going to be everywhere.
4) Foxes are hyper. To keep one happy and healthy, a large outdoor enclosure will be needed. The fencing for this enclosure is also going to have to be buried deep to prevent escape through digging, and also be quite high (2m+) or include a roof to prevent jumping.
5) Finding appropriate veterinary care is difficult as very few vets have cause to treat foxes. As you will be required to vaccinate the animal, finding a vet is absolutely necessary.
6) It´s probably illegal for you to keep one. In Canada, it´s unlawful to keep a wild animal without a permit. Individual communities also place restrictions on exotic pets.

Robert and Margaret Carspecken from the Oz Fox´s Foxweb compare the experience to owning both an antisocial cat and a hyperactive chihuahua; I love Ren & Stimpy as much as anyone, but I wouldn´t let them in my house for any length of time. Obviously, keeping one of these animals is a major commitment beyond the scope of most people. To do it right, you´d almost have to run things like a game farm; if you´re the kind of person who would keep a caribou or wolverine as a pet, a fox might be right for you.

If you do own a caribou or wolverine and want a fox to keep it company, the Urban Fox Ecology web site has some suggestions that might prove helpful. Another alternative is to consider buying a fennec, assuming you can find one and are legally able to do so. Fennec foxes have been kept as pets in Arab countries and by most accounts they are more sociable and less destructive than other foxes, although they still can´t be house trained.

Ultimately, your best bet is to watch foxes in the wild. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, chances are that you can find foxes of some sort nearby. J.David Henry´s "How to Spot a Fox" offers some interesting tips. You can also find pointers in the previously mentioned Urban Fox ecology site.

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