Can I Have a Pet Fox?

Post a video of a fox on the internet, and someone will always express an interest in having one for a pet. Is that really feasible? First, it depends on the laws in your state or country, which vary widely. Next understand that almost all foxes are wild animals. A wild animal can be "tamed," in that it can get used to being around people, but it will still be genetically a wild animal. In order to get a fox to love you and cuddle with you, it must be "domesticated," which is a process of breeding over generations to select for pet-like qualities instead of wild animal qualities.

Soviet geneticist Dmitry K. Belyaev has been breeding foxes in Siberia for over 50 years, to study the genetic differences between wild and domesticated animals. This led to a trade in domesticated foxes, true pets which are the results of 30-35 generations of breeding. You can buy one, thanks to Kay Fedewa, the exclusive U.S. importer of domesticated foxes. She has her own domesticated fox named Anya.

So what's it like to have a domesticated fox as a pet? Not quite like a dog, says Fedewa--a fox isn't a cool-looking dog, it's a different animal with different behavioral quirks. "Foxes are highly intelligent," says Fedewa, "and because of that they're ridiculously curious." Fedewa's fox, Anya, is not very big--only about 10 pounds, the weight of a mid-sized cat, though with her fluffy winter fur, she appears much larger. Anya is prone to digging up potted plants and chewing on them; foxes have a much stronger digging impulse than domesticated dogs. They also need an outdoor enclosure. Fedewa's cost a few thousand dollars to build and is filled with sand so Anya can dig. And fox urine is a major problem: Fedewa says you should "imagine cat pee, but a million times worse. It smells like skunk, it's the most pungent thing in the universe. If it gets in your carpet, you need a special enzyme to break it down, so if your fox marks [your home], that's pretty destructive." Some foxes can be house-trained to use a litter box, but they will still sometime mark their environment.

Oh, and importing one will run you around $8,000. Read about domesticated foxes, tame foxes, and the history and legality of owning wild species at PopSci. Link

(Image credit: Kay Fedewa)

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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I'm glad they mentioned the smell of fox urine in this article. That's something would-be fox owners have to think about.
Why not just get a fennec fox instead? :)
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