Foxes breed once a year and we begin taking deposits in September for kits that will be born in the spring. Below is information about keeping a fox as a pet to help understand whether this unique experience is right for you.
While their diet is very similar to a dog’s, the biggest difference is that foxes require an organic compound called taurine for healthy eye and heart development. A high protein dog food containing taurine is best but if you are unable to provide one with taurine included, supplements are available.
Along with the high protein dog food it is important to provide bite-sized vegetables on a regular basis. A daily diet should consist of 80% dog food and 20% veggies and other treats. Fruit is more of a treat than a necessity and berries are a favorite of our foxes. Mealworms, crickets and feeder mice or rats (already killed) are a great way to add a varied source of protein for your fox. We also like to give our foxes hard boiled eggs in the shell as enrichment and the shell provides them with extra calcium. If you desire to feed your fox meat, it needs to be lean meat, cooked to avoid parasites.
Like any animal, your fox should always be provided with clean water in a dish.
While it is possible to keep your pet fox in your home, due to their intelligence and curiosity we do not recommend leaving them loose while unsupervised. Crate training for a fox is not ideal and may lead to injuries or behavioral problems. We suggest that all fox owners provide their fox with its own space where it can safely spend time alone, either indoors or outdoors. Outdoor enclosures require a secure top and a floor that prevents the fox from digging or climbing out. Within the enclosure should be a shelter to keep the fox out of the elements and provide shade. It is also important to to give your fox things to play with and climb within their enclosure to keep them occupied.
Training a fox is very different than training a dog and patience is needed to work with them. Foxes respond to positive reinforcement, such as treats in the form of food, as well as just plain avoiding behavior that is undesirable. For example, if your fox is biting while playing, don’t punish them, just remove the temptation and continue to play in a way which they are unable to bite.
Foxes prefer to litter train but may require more than one litter box if they are not within close proximity of the box at all times. If your fox seems to prefer going in a certain area consistently, place the box in that spot to avoid further accidents. Begin training early and do it consistently!
Foxes require similar veterinarian care to a dog but not every veterinarian will be able to care for a fox. It’s incredibly important to find a vet to treat your fox before bringing it home. Having a vet experienced in caring for foxes will insure that you are able to care for your fox through well checks or emergency visits. Annual rabies vaccines and distemper boosters are key to protecting the health of your fox. We also recommend having your fox spayed or neutered before they hit sexual maturity.
Foxes and Other Pets
Foxes greatly enjoy having dogs as companions, especially when introduced at a young age. However, not every dog enjoys having a fox as a companion and the same can be said for most cats. Most small animals that resemble a fox’s natural prey should not be considered “safe” even around a domesticated pet fox. It is important to slowly and carefully introduce any new animal or person to your fox.
Other Important Information
We DO NOT recommend a fox as a pet in a household with babies or small children.
It is illegal to own a fox as a pet in many states and owning one illegally can result in the animal being seized, the owner being fined (or even jailed) and the possibility of the animal being euthanized. Michigan DNR requires a permit for native species of fox.
In states where it is legal to own a fox, many states require a permit to be obtained. The best way to obtain answers about legality and permits is to contact your state veterinarian’s office, which is usually a part of the department of agriculture. A list from 2017 can be found here.