Tuesday, September 13, 2011
at 8:00 AM
A lot of you brought home a fox this spring, and are by now head-over-heels in love with your affectionate little ball of fur. He or she is clever, inquisitive, lovable, and all the things you had hoped for. Perhaps you still have a bit of a problem with food aggression, or using the litter box, but overall things are moving forward at a good clip and you're feeling confident.
There's good news and bad news. The good news is, yes, you are doing well and your fox is shaping up to be a fine animal. The bad news is, the October Crazies will soon be upon us.
During a kit's first fall (Usually in October, but it can be as early as August or as late as November), they go through a series of temperament changes. These changes are temporary, but very dramatic. The kit becomes aggressive, fearful, hyperactive, destructive, nippy, and prone to frustrated tantrums. It will seem as if you have lost all progress with them, but it's important to remember that this is a temporary phase. You may feel like you've done something horribly wrong in raising your kit, or be worried that there is something terribly wrong with them, or think that you're not cut out to keep a fox. Don't worry, this is a normal part of your kits development, and it only happens the first year.
So what causes the Crazies? In the wild, this is the time that your kit would be driven away by it's parents to fend for itself. Other foxes, meanwhile, have no desire to let these young intruders into their territory, so they attack and drive off the newcomers. The kits have to struggle to establish their own territory and fend for themselves. Their hormones kick into high gear, so at the same time they're fighting to carve out a place in the world, they're dealing with internal chemistry they've never had before. The fear and aggression you see in your pet is a remnant of this--as their surrogate "parent", they are concerned that you are going to attack them and drive them away.
The key to surviving the October Crazies is to stay consistent with your training, be patient, and above all remember that this is only a phase. By the time your kit reaches one year of age (usually considerably earlier. Gizmo was back to normal by mid November), they will have settled back into being a reasonable animal again. The hormonal effects die down as the fox gets more used to them, and they start to realize that you're not going to bite them and chase them away. It'll be hard to believe that the temperamental monster you had in October is the sweet pet you have curled up in your lap in January.