Your Guide To Domesticated Pet Foxes

Reviewed By Kim •  Updated: 06/01/20 •  10 min read
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Exotic pets are becoming more and more popular these days—one such exotic pet on the radar is the fox. You read that right—domesticated foxes are becoming more popular as pets. Are you thinking about getting a pet fox? Are you wondering where to find exotic animals for sale? Then read on to learn all about keeping a fox as a pet and the legal issues you may face with this beautiful exotic fur baby.

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When Were Foxes First Domesticated?

As with other canines, a few foxes have been known to become domesticated in the past. However, in modern times, the fascination with foxes began with a Russian experiment with genetics. A Russian scientist, Dmitry Belyaev, a geneticist, was curious about how dogs were first domesticated. So, he decided to replicate the process as closely as possible and chose foxes for the experiment. Foxes were chosen because they’re closely related to dogs—dogs and foxes are canids.

Belyaev and his researchers visited fur farms in the then Soviet Union to find the tamest foxes possible. They thought friendly animals were more prone to be domesticated. Tamer animals bred together should result in young with the same attributes, resulting in foxes that enjoyed human companionship and interactions.

Belyaev died before finishing the study, but it’s a well-known fact that the foxes from the study did go on to breed successfully.

The results have shown that foxes bred for tameness resulted in young who were quite happy to be around humans and live with them.

Domesticated Pet Foxes & Foxy Characteristics

Becoming the pet parent of a fox can be a wonderful experience, but they can also be challenging if you’re not prepared. These beautiful animals are not like domesticated dogs, even though they are related.

Foxes are in the family Candidae and are small-to medium sized, with a lifespan between ten and fifteen years when living in captivity. Unlike dogs and other canines, foxes do not live in packs, but may live alone or in small family groups.

These canines are cute and intelligent…some would say cunning. Think of all the stories and fables involving foxes, and you’ll see they do have a reputation for being clever. That’s because they’ve rightfully earned this reputation. While foxes can make clever, cute pets, there are some legal issues you should be aware of before getting a foxy fur baby.

Fox as Pet–Legal in What State?

This is a difficult question, with no specific answers. The legality and rules of keeping a fox as a pet varies from state to state, with even county and city laws varying within the same state. However, one state—New York—does allow people to own fennec foxes as pets.

In other states, North Carolina for instance, it’s possible to get a special license for exhibiting foxes, but the state doesn’t allow foxes to be kept as pets. Additionally, some states may allow foxes as pets, but then not allow you to bring one into the state. There are even states where it’s OK to keep a fox that you’ve caught or that has been bred in captivity. These laws and rules change on a regular basis, so it’s difficult to determine if foxes might be allowed as pets in specific states.

Some states may let you keep a specific breed of fox. You’ll have to also check to see which wildlife categories your fox falls under—they’re sometimes listed as a non-domesticated species, wild or small canine, etc.

These states may allow you to keep foxes as pets:

Arkansas Florida Indiana
Kansas Michigan Montana
Nebraska New York Ohio
Tennessee Virginia Wisconsin

As you can see, the question of ‘where are pet foxes legal’ is not easy to answer. If you’re considering getting a fox to keep as a pet, it’s a good idea to first check out the laws in your local city, county and state. You can also revisit the idea by considering adopting a dog that look like a fox instead!

Do Foxes Make Good Pets?

Domesticated foxes can be enjoyable exotic pets. They tend to be friendly and fun, but they’re not the same as other domesticated pets (like dogs or cats).

These canids do share certain characteristics with cats and dogs. Some foxes are about the size of a medium to large cat, or a small dog. They can be aloof like a cat, but they have a lot more energy and can be quite playful—more like a playful, active dog. Similar to cats, foxes can be independent, but then again, they may enjoy being cuddled by their favorite person. They’re also very agile, like cats—they’re great jumpers and climbers.

Foxes can be wonderful pets, but they’re not as adaptable to indoor, home situations as dogs and cats. You may need to consider building an outdoor run for your fox, where he can spend part of his day free to act as a fox—digging, climbing, etc.

Pet Fox Temperament

Just as with other pets, temperaments can vary from fox to fox. Some foxes may prefer one person, while others are happy with a human family to love.

Foxes and their moods can change swiftly. One moment they can be the best companion, but in the next they will go where they want and do what they want regardless of what you’d prefer. Foxes, even those that have been domesticated, are not intent on pleasing their humans! You must come to terms with this fact before you become a pet parent to a fox fur baby.

These lovely pets can be trained, like their doggie relatives. They can be taught to walk on a leash, do tricks, commands, etc. However, it takes much patience to train them. It will take some time and care to get your fox learn how to behave. And like their cat companions, foxes can even be trained to use the litter box.

Some domesticated fox species have a strong odor from anal glands, used to scent-mark their territories. In addition, the glands can release spray when a fox is scared. So, be sure to keep this in mind if you’ll be keeping your fox indoors.

So, keep in mind that a fox can make a great companion animal, but they will not behave like a dog. They have their own personalities and can be quite independent. With patience and love you may be able to train your fox fur baby, but it will take a lot of time…and patience.

What Do Pet Foxes Eat?

What to feed foxes? Food for pet fox is quite similar to what dogs and cats eat. In nature, foxes are omnivorous—meaning they eat meat, vegetables, fruits and other foods. Your pet will need a balanced diet in order to be healthy. What to feed foxes?

It’s possible to find commercially prepared fox food. Look for fox foods that contain taurine, which is a substance foxes get naturally when eating mice and other small rodents in the wild. The majority of your fur baby’s diet should be protein, in order for him to stay healthy.

A pet fox’s diet also needs to include veggies every day. If you have a smaller fox, give him a few teaspoons of veggies, while larger foxes may have up to several tablespoons of vegetables each day. You can also include fruits—foxes love berries and cherries. But avoid feeding your fox baby grapes or raisins, as these may cause him to develop kidney problems.

One word of caution—don’t feed your fox too many fruits and vegetables. Just like with dogs, too many of these yummy foods can cause digestive problems that include vomiting and diarrhea.

Feed your fox baby a balanced diet, and you’ll have a happy, healthy fox on your hands!

Pet Foxes for Sale

When it comes to buying a pet fox, what do you need to consider? The number one consideration is if the fox kits (babies) have been bred with in captivity or if they’ve been taken from the wild. A fox may be bred in captivity, with genetics in mind; however, you need to ensure any fox you get has been raised with the intention that it become a pet.

Domesticated foxes are produced with genetics in mind and are raised by breeders. You’ll need to make sure to buy your fox from a breeder, ensuring that the fox kits were not taken from their mother in the wild. It will also be necessary to make sure your fox baby was not born on a fur farm or “puppy mill.”

How to Adapt to Your Fox Fur Baby

While you’re probably used to the way dogs and cats adapt to their humans, foxes will not do this. Foxes will remain foxes (including the retention of their wilder instincts), so it’s up to you to adapt to your fox. You can observe a similar partner with people adopting small exotic cats. Here are some things you can do:

1. Spend as much time as possible with him: the more time you spend with your fox, the better and strong the bond will be between you both. Not only will you both enjoy the company, but you’ll become more attuned to his needs and swift mood changes.

2. Chew toys are helpful: foxes love to chew, so be sure to have a large variety of sturdy chew toys on hand for your fur baby! While dogs like to eat socks it is unlikely to be something a fox would like to chew. Chew toys also make great distractions if your fox is doing something undesirable, like chewing up those expensive shoes you just bought!

3. Find a vet to cares for foxes: just as you would with any pet, you’ll need to find a vet who’s very familiar with foxes and their health requirements. In addition, be sure your vet gives your fox any necessary and required vaccinations, such as a rabies shot, etc.

4. Foxes and other pets: if you have pet rodents or other small pets (including puppies and kittens), never leave them alone with your fox. Foxes are opportunistic feeders in the wild and will exhibit this same behavior even when domesticated.

5. Never release a domesticated fox into the wild: sometimes things don’t work out and you can’t keep your fur baby. It happens; however, never release him into the wild. If he wasn’t born and raised in the wild, he won’t know how to survive. The best option is to rehome your fox—do whatever is needed to find him a good home with loving people.

We hope this short guide has given you some information on foxes as pets and the things you’ll need to consider before getting a fox fur baby. The fox is a beautiful animal, but he does retain some of his wild instincts. You’ll also need to check the laws in your city, county and state to see if it’s legal to keep a fox as a pet. Be responsible and do the research before you bring one of these beautiful fur babies home.

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Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.