Wednesday, July 28, 2010
at 8:00 AM
#1. Always Supervise
It's never advisable to leave a fox and another pet alone together, especially when they're just starting to get used to each other. Even if both animals are friendly, play can get a bit too rough and things can escalate. I know of more than one case where a fox and another pet who had always gotten along in the past were left alone together, and one or both were seriously injured when a fight broke out.
#2. No Pocket Pets
Don't try to introduce a fox to a caged pet or "pocket pet". Just don't. When your fox looks at your pet hamster/lizard/parakeet/sugar glider it doesn't see a friend, it sees food. Attempting to introduce a fox to a pocket pet will only end in tears, and it won't be the foxes fault.
#3. Buy the Smaller Animal First
Although not always possible, this can be a huge step towards pets in the house at least coexisting. It's much easier for an established full-grown cat to teach a fox kit to respect it's space than it is for a kitten to teach an adult fox the same thing.
#4. Make Changes Early
If introducing a new pet will make major changes to an established pets life (i.e. not allowed to go in a certain room, less attention, etc.) make those changes BEFORE you bring the new pet home, so the old one will not associate the restriction of it's freedom with the new arrival.
#5. Trade Blankets Before the Introduction
Animals rely a lot more on smell than we do, and an unfamiliar scent can cause a great deal of stress. Before introducing a fox to another pet, get them both used to the other one's smell. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take the blanket from one animal's bed and trade it with the other animal's blanket. This will allow them to get comfortable with the other one's scent ahead of time, so that when they do meet it won't be a completely "unfamiliar" animal.
#6. Introduce on Neutral Territory
Whenever possible, introduce animals on territory that neither one "owns". If neither animal feels like it owns an area and has to protect it, things are less likely to go south.
#7. Let Both Animals Have an "Escape Route"
Especially at first, both pets must be able to get away from the situation if they're starting to feel stressed. If the fox or the other animal feels cornered, things can turn nasty quite quickly. The easiest way to do this is to leash both pets, and have a responsible adult have a hold of each one. Make sure that each one can retreat out of reach of the other one's leash.
For those of you readers who are from multi-pet households, how did you introduce your animals at first? What techniques have worked for you?