Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Choosing a Fox: What Species Is Best?

What species of fox makes the best pet? The answer depends as much on the owner as it does on the fox. As with breeds of dogs, there is no one "best" species of fox, only foxes with differing traits and needs. However, to make things a little more clear, I will offer a comparison on the different species to the best of my knowledge. In the interest of full disclosure, I have only personally owned reds, so I can only pass along what I've heard from the owners of other species.

Reds tend to have more laid-back and doglike personalities than the other species do (given how hyper Gizmo is, I hate to think what the -not- laid-back species are like.) The main downside to reds is their size (large compared to the other species; I know of a domestic red that's 25 lbs and not fat) and that they are one of the stinkier species.

Next up are Arctic foxes. I have heard more reports of aggressive behavior about young arctics than any other species; if I get an e-mail in my inbox saying "help! My fox kit is biting and I don't know how to make her stop", 9/10 times it's an arctic kit. I don't know if this is a specific stage that arctic kits go through, or if the aggression persists into adulthood. If anyone has more information on the temperaments of adult arctics, please let me know. However, if you are considering bringing home an arctic, it is worth noting that arctics are more temperature-sensitive than other species, so you'll need to make special arrangements for them in the summer to be sure they don't overheat. Arctics are also relatively strong smelling, from what I've heard.

As for fennecs, they tend to be a bit easier for new fox owners to handle because they are so small. 3 lbs of fennec is a lot less intimidating than 17 lbs of red fox. However, I have also heard that they are the most temperamental species, and have the biggest personality change as they get older. (They are also incredibly noisy. Not sure I could deal with this every morning.)

The remaining three species you can find in the pet trade are grey foxes, swift foxes, and corsac foxes. From what I've heard, all three are relatively well-suited to be pets. They're not as big or smelly as reds are, and aren't as high-strung as fennecs. I'll admit that I haven't personally kept any of these species, but I have heard nothing but good things about them. The breeder who I purchased Gizmo from has said that greys are her personal favorite.

More important than species, though, is that you get a bottle-raised kit. They need to be pulled from the mother before three weeks of age and bottle-fed by humans to imprint them on humans. Otherwise they will never be quite as tame or as friendly. For your first pet fox, it is very important that you get one from a breeder who bottle feeds.

50 comments:

  1. Happy to have an update. A fox has always been my dream pet, so when I found this blog I started checking every day. It had been a few months so I was getting worried. Glad you and Gizmo are ok!

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  2. My boyfriend is really into "exotic pets." Never thought of a fox, but I think that could count! Now I just have to prepare myself...thanks!

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  3. This is very helpful, I've been thinking about getting a fox (for the past 6 years) and this has really helped!

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  4. I plan on getting an arctic fox soon and the breeder I am getting him from says that they have no smell whatsoever which I hope is true because I would really like to have him mostly in the house. He also told me that they are the smallest and would do best as a mostly indoor pet. You've really got me rethinking my decision tho !

    Brianna

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    1. Your breeder was not entirely honest with you. Arctic foxes definitely have a smell to them (I've heard mixed reports on whether it's as bad as the reds smell. Some say it's not as strong, some say it's a lot worse.) As for being the smallest, that is a bald-faced lie. Arctics are actually one of the largest species of fox by weight.

      It sounds to me like the breeder was just telling you whatever you wanted to hear, so proceed with caution. If you do decide to purchase a kit from this individual, do an extremely thorough health check on the entire litter, and inquire about the breeder's USDA permit.

      If any of the kits appear in poor health (even if it's not the one you're taking), or the breeder doesn't produce some proof of their license, RUN. Even if it means losing your deposit.

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  5. I've been planning on getting a fox or two someday, but I have no idea where to start looking. we do want reds, and in a more decent price range, but I don't even know where to start to find a decent breeder. how would you start looking, or do you know some breeders I could look into?

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    1. There is a web site called TinyTracks were you have a variety of foxes to choose from. Also, many people who own foxes got there's from Tiny tracks and strongly recommended them as a supplier. They also give the option of purchasing a "starter kit" which gives you some of the things you may need for your fox kit. Hope this helped!

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    2. Please do not support Tiny Tracks. They raise their animals in very poor conditions and often are neglected. There is a reason why they won't let buyers see where they keep their animals.

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  6. If i wanted to have a red fox as a pet when i got my own house (i have wanted one for over 4 years) how would i start to find a decent breeder?

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  7. I have been consideering a fox as a pet for over a year now, I have seen a lot of fox for sale up on "exoticanimalsforsale.net" whether or not these are reputable breeders is hard to say without talking to the people, but many have photos up, descriptions, their personal phone number and email and most will have ssome sort of statement about their usda license... I've seen quite a few of these, and I'm considering a silver, any suggestions on whether this is a bad idea or not? Pros and cons of a silver?

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  8. I am planning on getting a fox very soon, but my community only accepts small to medium animals, would a red fox be considered a large animal?

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    1. They are small to medium. They can be compared to a small size dog, like a boston terrier.

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  9. How intense is the 'stink' of Red foxes in particular? is it comparable to a dog, or a cats musk- or is it more intense like that of a skunk?

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  10. the breeder that im looking at buying from also has breeds named Pearl, silver, fire and ice, and such like. How do these comare to the gray and red foxes?

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    1. Pearl, Silver, and Fire-And-Ice are just colors of red fox. They are the same thing.

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    2. Are fire and Ice together? My breeder has that too.

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  11. If you want to get an Artic fox is there a temperature that you should keep your house at if you want to have them as an indoor pet(mostly) and what suggestions do you have for maintaining a good temperature for them in an outdoor space? Would an AC shed be good enough?

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  12. How bad do the red foxs smell.? & are foxs as loving as dogs? Do they cuddle with you & would you ever sleep with one, or would that be too dangerous.

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    1. You should NEVER sleep with a fox! Yes reds stink, but so do most foxes. Foxes aren't cuddly so don't expect it to. Be sure to always keep it on a leash, or it might run away and be too fast to catch.

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  13. A lot of places I have looked at have said that fox's (ALL fox kind) are wild and not trust worthy plus in the top 10 BAD pets is that true I REALY want a fox but I don't know what to trust! Even finding someone who can breed them sounds totally dangerous and a little scary WHAT SHOULD I DO!????!??

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  14. please tell me what to do!! I really want a fox but there in the top 10 BAD pets list some one tell me the truth about fox's please I DONT KNOW WHAT I SHOULD DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

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    1. Who do you trust more about how foxes do as pets? Someone who has never owned a fox making a list of animals, or someone who has a pet fox and is very up front about the good and bad aspects of it.

      Also, you should quit abusing punctuation. what'd it ever do to you?

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  15. TammyHand@mindspring.comJanuary 10, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    I have a Gray fox , /Roxie is female and about 5and a half years old. She was not a pup and didn't come from a breeder . Now that being said she loves me and Robert but is always shy and spooky. She sleeps under my bed and will come out when when she wants to play or get petted. She is not a lovie dovie animal at all. She will let you pet her but not pick her up or crate her. She has little or no smell and is litter box trained. I had to get a permit to keep her. She was hurt by a dog and can never be released to the wild. She nips is you do not do what she wants, she nips if you make her afraid and she will bite you if you go under the bed in her space. I do not suggest you get a fox from the wild unless you are a rehab person and plan to spend the rest of your life as her caretaker.
    She hates other people and will not come out when anyone is around. She doesn't have a smell like I was told by the zoo vet that she would have. I love her and she loves me but she if far from the best pet animal. I would not suggest a wild Fox as a pet to anyone but a professional. Thanks Tammy

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    1. I'm sorry, but having a wild fox is extremely risky. I got a domestic red fox and it's pretty good. Generations and generations of tame foxes were put into it. Very pricy though paid more then $8000. Not as good as a dog but the next best thing. I keep it in my garage and have a fenced in backyard. I needed to put a mesh on the top and digged down one foot cemented it, the covered it back with dirt. I also got a lot of sand and covered a whole corner with it. Lots of preperation goes into owning a fox. I love her, but I wish I had just been able to settle with a newfoundland. With a Newfoundland, you basically get a gigantic cuddly Teddy bear. They are also great with kids. The fox is tolerant to a point. My sister owns a Newfoundland and my kids love her. I think as soon as Misty, my red fox, dies I will get a Newfoundland. And name her Emily. I'm sorry I just love Newfoundlands I just realized that! That's crazy!

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  16. I want to get a domestic fox. The ones form Russia that are $8,700. What should I do to prepare for that? I want an arctic fox, while my friend wants a red, we live together, but we don't want two. What do we do?

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  17. I saw you could own a fox and was Like OMG! I totally need one. I found this info very interesting and desisted to get a fennec fox. They seem cute and easier. I'm gonna need a litter box though. And a cage. I also don't know if my chihuahua will like it. Do dogs and foxes get along?

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  18. I am sad that so many people are willing to spend $8,000 or more on a vanity pet. The shelters are full in America with dogs, cats, rabbits and nearly every other animal species. Dogs have proven their designation of "Man's best friend" for hundreds of years. If you have an extra $8,000, adopt a shelter animal, then give the rest to the Humane Society to use in its work to stop cruelty and neglect. But please, don't use it to purchase a "look at me, I'm so cool, I have a fox" pet. Be bigger than that.

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    1. I have a fox that I got for $200, which is LESS than my local shelter charges for a large dog. Just because one person spent a ton of money on an animal doesn't mean they're ALL that expensive. Compare a million-dollar racehorse to a hobby-farm pony.

      Also, before you start singing the praises of the HSUS, please check out this website, and don't give any more of your money to those criminals:
      http://www.humanewatch.org/

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    2. You're not going to make a lot of friends bringing up HSUS. I paid a $180 adoption fee for my rottie from a shelter, and I have seen shelters charge $600 for a dog. A red fox is in the $200 to $500 range depending on breeder and color. The foxes shipped from Russia are in the $7000-$8000 range, but there are only 3 or 4 in the entire country.

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    3. The Russian domesticated foxes that cost upwards of $8,000 go to fur farms and get made into coats if no one buys them. So you're still rescuing an animal :)

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    4. Believe it or not. Racehorses are worthless ones they're racing career is over. They're only valuable as a broodmare or stud if they made good winnings. A million dollar horse to a $200 horse. Just had to point that out.

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  19. Foxes in America are raised by humans trying to get them accustomed to humans. If you get a good breeder and train them well they can be good pets. However, there are places in Siberia where foxes have been GENETICALLY domesticated to TRULY be tame, not just raised in a human household. There is a difference, y'know. (These Russian foxes can be 9000 dollars though, so not really in your average budget.)

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  20. How do i go about finding a breeder near my location? I live near chicago.

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    1. I just purchased a red fox. 16 days old. She is fabulous! Bought her from Lost River game ranch in southern Indian. Google the ranch name for their ph#. It was an all day drive to get there but worth the trip.

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  22. Nosense Nonsense.May 23, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    I've dreamed of being the proud owner of a beautiful fox ever since I was young. One of my very favorite animals.
    However, as I've gotten older it's become less practical. Now, I have 2 cats. I would still love to add a Fox to the family some day, but I worry that they could become too aggressive with my cats.
    The most beautiful breed in my opinion is the Red. I think Fennecs are cute, but I prefer larger breeds (just as I prefer larger breeds of dogs).
    Of the larger breeds, which do you think would be the least aggressive around other animals?
    Also, what do you do to keep the fox odor under control and how frequently do you bathe them on average?

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  23. I've really just gotten into the idea of getting a pet fox. Mostly because while I've always liked them, it never occurred to me that I could have one as a member of my family, and partially because today I got my first up close(ish) look at a wild one who seems to have made the wooded area near my home, their home. As for the breeds, I know I want a red, and a silver, or two arctics. The first two due to an anime obsession I have that would center around their names, and the second because anything albino, or arctic has always appealed to me. Albino pythons, snow leopard, white siberian tiger, etc. I have a potential solution for people interested in arctic foxes that live in areas where it can get hot and humid during the summer, I personally live in the obscenely random weathered state of North Carolina. Our summers can start early and drag on. Fortunately our hot and humid season started this month instead of last month because winter didn't quite finish with us on time. There are plenty of things out there made for bigger dogs, and long haired dogs, who can't take the heat in the summer. Unfortunately not all of it works for an animal that loves to dig and gnaw on any/everything, but for an arctic who seeks cool temeratures it's worth a try. They make pads, kind of like water beds, designed to keep the water in them cool. All that's needed is to change out the water every once in a while to prevent stagnation. They also make collar/neck wraps that follow the same principal. Wet them down with ice cold water and put on your pet's neck to keep them cool. Of course a nice shady spot is always recommended when keeping an animal outdoors for a longer period of time, and apart from exercise and fresh air , my pets are indoor only. My cats do NOT go outside, for fear of predators and cars, and my dog does NOT stay outside for more than fifteen minutes unless I'm doing a lot of in/out through the front door. I can see my dog from my driveway so that's not a big deal for her. For indoor spaces, I recommend keeping a fan going even with the AC on. And just because it's nice out for you to cut it off and open the windows, doesn't make it okay for your pets. Keep an eye on their behavior. An animal like a fox who is usually bursting with energy should not be lethargic if they are enjoying the temperature. Also ice cubes as treats are probably a good idea. Just my two cents taken from years of experience with dogs who dislike the heat.

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  24. i am a younger fox lover and i have been doing hours on end of research so i can be the perfect fox owner when i am older and have enough room in my yard to have the proper space for my fox....... but do you know what a champagne fox is like..... that is like my all-time favorite but you didn't say anything about them and i was curious on your point of view on them.

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    1. "Champagne Fox" is just another color of Red Fox. They're the same thing.

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    2. The link below is to someone who owns a Champagne fox.she updates her sight regularly so you can ask Her about her pet Fox Miko. :D
      http://livingwithfoxesblog.tumblr.com/

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  25. I went to an exotic pet store today and they had an arctic fox kit there that I got to pet. She did not smell too bad. Hell the ferret smelled worse, and I use to have one that didn't nearly smell as bad. If you live in a household with a cat and two dogs I can bet you would barely notice the smell. Yes she did have a bit of a temperament but that is because she is shy and does not like a retail environment. I am sure if raised by a loving family that already has pets, it would be not much different than owning a dog or a cat.

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    1. The lack of smell was because she was a kit, not a mature animal. This is the case for most mammals, even humans. Compare the smell of a 7-year-old who has been running around outside all afternoon to an adult who has been jogging all afternoon.

      As for the temperament, given that almost all arctic kits have one, it is much more likely that she has a bit of attitude because she is an arctic, not because she doesn't like a retail environment.

      Also, being raised by someone who has pets will not make the fox be like a dog or a cat. It is still a fox and will act accordingly. In fact, allowing too much contact between a fox kit and a dog is ill-advised because the kits often instinctively bond to the dog instead of the human, resulting in a kit that is shy and hostile towards humans but friendly with dogs.

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  26. Is there a way to make red foxes less stinky?

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  27. My girlfriend has always wanted to own a fox, but I never knew which species would be suitable but now I do. Thank you so much!

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  28. What breed should I get and can I dress it up in dog clothes from time to time?

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    1. If you are the kind of person who dresses up pets in clothes, then you are not the kind of person who should keep any exotic pet. Unless they are being put on for the comfort of the animal (i.e. the booties they put on sled dogs, for example), applying clothing is selfish on the part of the human and stressful for the animal.

      To keep a fox, in many ways you have to meet it "half-way" and recognize it's wild nature and strive to meet it's needs in the most complete way you can. The fact that you would even consider dressing it up makes it very clear that you lack that level of maturity or interest in giving it the proper care--you just want a toy.

      A fox is not a toy. Please do not get a fox.

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  30. I'm going to get a male fox when I move out and I would get a female fox later on. When could I introduce her to him? Please leave an answer.
    -Vineflower

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    1. What makes you so sure you want two foxes when you haven't even had one yet?

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  31. Keeping foxes less stinky: bathe once a month
    Introducing foxes: I've learned that if the foxes are used to others they tend to be less shy or territorial if you introduce them slowly and carefully supervised eventually they may or may not get along.
    Those who support tiny tracks may or may not notice the cages have wires on the bottoms and are elevated putting pressure on the feet that isn't pleasant to anybody. Do they have a great variety yes but foxes aren't just something you buy and expect to be loving like a dog. They are naturally shy in the wild domesticated or not so unless you get veery lucky odds are you will get a fox that will not sleep next to you but under the bed or couch and will come sleep next to you. I've noticed the smell is kind of a musky smell but it is a predominate smell to someone who isn't used to it just like when you go to someone's house who has cats dogs guinea pigs ferrets... you get the picture. Just please choose carefully when you get an exotic pet.

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