F o x e s   &   F r i e n d s

Educational Site & Fox Rescue

I want a Fox!

I get asked this question so much I don't even answer anymore sometimes. People ask me how to get a pet fox, where can they get a pet fox without doing any research about them. Rescues and rehomes, while honorable, are rare. Most likely if you have done your research and found a Vet willing to treat one, you will have to go through a breeder. Below are some steps on how to get ready for a fox if you are determined to get one. I would recommend a dog first, but as long as you are prepared for this animal whose life will now depend on you solely for up to 18 years, then proceed.

Preparing & Pricing For Your Fox

Make sure you take into consideration how much work a fox will be before you say "I want one!" just because they are cute. Foxes are not for everyone, but if you are here, you probably already know they are very hard work. They are almost like having a newborn baby in the house, and I would recommend taking vacation time (almost like maternity leave) when you get your little one. Also just keep in mind they might keep you up at night and need constant care when you first adopt them so you bond and they begin to trust you.
Basic questions you should ask any fox breeder BEFORE you buy.
Always remember, if the breeder ever asks for the payment above all else, has poor English, won't give out contact information, or asks for payment through Western Union, they are probably fake
 
-Price?
The most obvious question. For Fennecs, if the price is below $1500 dollars, it is probably a scam, unless they are an adult. Foxes in general will run in the $350 - $4000 range.

-Shots/Veterinarian?
Does the breeder personally make themselves responsible for their first set of shots? Are they included in the full price? Has the vet you use been experienced with Fennecs before? You want to make sure you will be receiving a happy, healthy kit. You also want to make sure they come complete with the sellers USDA license number and that the baby comes with a health certificate. Do you have a Vet ready to see them?

-What age do they leave?
Foxes should always stay with a breeder for at least the first six weeks and even better if they stay longer. This is because they need to be bottle fed. Bottle feeding is difficult for pet owners because the babies suck so strongly they could accidentally ingest formula into their lungs.  And if they are weaned onto dry food, getting them at six weeks is the optimum age.

-What's included?
If they are shipping, and you cannot see the kit until arrival, make sure they will include a health certificate, the breeders USDA license papers and an airline approved kennel.  Are shots included in the price? Is the dry food included so they can be weaned off that brand? Is shipping legal? Do I need a special permit? 

Diet?
This is one of the most important questions. You want to at least follow the diet the breeder had them on for the first few weeks you get them. Some breeders feed their foxes live rodents, vegetables, dead chicks, dry food, fruit, cereal, and other various mixes. Kits should have a base dry food such as Mazuri's Wild Canid Diet to start off with or Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Quality Cat food, with added fruits and vegetables sparingly. Too much fiber is bad for them. I even encountered one breeder who has their own brand of fox food.

-Litter trained?
Ask if the breeder starts an early litter training process. Some breeders do start early, as do puppy breeders. The earlier the better, some breeders even pull them after 2 days and begin the process with Pet Attractant Spray.

-Human interaction?
Foxes need to be handled as soon as possible so the wild instincts are mulled over. The more interaction your baby has, the more friendly it will be. So keep in mind a breeder who has their kits inside and bottle raised and handled versus one who lets the mother raise them. And even bottle-raised kits will still have wild instincts.
 
-Hand raised?
Were these little guys kept in a pen with other foxes, or were they handled daily and socialized with humans and other pets? A good breeder will pull the kits anywhere from 2-10 days, before the kits eyes open around day 15.

-Enclosure (outside or inside)?
Believe it or not, this does make a difference. If you as a pet owner intend to keep your fox indoors (which is recommended with Fennecs since they are escape artists and cannot survive in the wild on their own), you must ask the breeder if they are used to being inside or outside. If you plan to keep them in an outdoor enclosure you might like a breeder who has them prepared for the outdoors. Fennec Foxes are the best types of foxes for being kept inside, but Swift Foxes can be trained to be indoors provided you take them for walks and give them enough outside time.

-What type of cage/enclosure would you recommend?
What did the breeder keep them in? What are they used to? The recommended indoor cages for Fennecs are listed on the photos page and the Fennec Fox tab.

-Parents, bloodline, etc.?
This is an EXTREMELY important question. You want to make sure that the parents of your fox are not related (And currently I believe there is an unintentional inbreeding problem with Fennecs). If there is cross breeding, your baby will be more prone to having genetic abnormalities, usually serious immune system diseases. Ask if the parent foxes had any liver-related diseases or problems, as most Fennecs specifically develop these issues later in life. I knew of one breeder I had to remove from the site because she was breeding foxes with genetic problems and refused to work with the buyer even though their fox died.

-Can I get pictures?
You want to make sure they send you pictures every step of the way. Not only will this prove they are legitimate, but it will make you feel like a new parent every step of the way.

Okay, so I am on the waiting list! . . . Now what?
  • Step 1: Prepare the foxes home.

Depending what type of fox you decided on, you may need to build an outdoor enclosure for your fox. I would recommend an outdoor enclosure for all species except Swifts, Kits, Corsacs, and Fennecs. Never leave your fox unattended outside unless in their secure enclosure. I would recommend the enclosure either have concrete on the bottom, or at least fence dug into the ground 2-3 feet underneath to prevent the fox from digging and escaping. Never leave the fox tied to a chain like you even shouldn't do for a dog. Not only is it cruel, but they will most likely escape since they are smarter than dogs.

 

  • Step 2: Preparing your home.

You will want to make sure to fox-proof your house, much like you would to child-proof it. Hide all exposed cords, as some like to chew, and cover all outlets with plastic covers. I would recommend anything you don't want stolen or taken to be placed out of reach and above the ground. To a fox, out of sight, out of mind (unless they know it's there). I would suggest keeping windows closed too because a fox is smart enough to escape even through a screen. Cats can escape through a screen, so foxes can as well. Foxes are smarter than cats and more mischievous. If your fox is to go in a litter box, find a corner of the house for it, as well as one in their enclosure or cage, so it encourages the, to use it. I would suggest placing their waste in the box if they have an accident, and usually the smarter foxes catch on. Some foxes will refuse to be potty trained - keep that in mind.

  •  Step 3: Supplies.

This is perhaps the most expensive thing about owning a fox, if not for the actual fox. The basic things you will need for a fox are;

  1.  Cage or Enclosure - can cost anywhere from $150 - $2,000 depending on the size of your fox and type of cage/enclosure.
  2. Food - will probably be about $40 - $50 per month
  3. Toys, Beds, Blankets, etc. - will probably be around $30 - $100
  4. Vet Bills - foxes need the same shots as small dogs, so that can run anywhere from $200 - $500
  5. The Actual Fox (Estimates):                            

Red Foxes - $350 - $800

  Gray Foxes -  $350 - $800

          Arctic Foxes - $400 - $800

  Kit Foxes - $1000 - $2000

  Swift Foxes - $1000 - $2500

  Pale Foxes -  $1000 - $4000

  Fennec Foxes - $1500 - $4000

  Corsac Foxes - $2000 - $4500 

  • Step 4: Selecting a food that fits.
Some people prepare home-made fox diets that consist of anything from raw chicken to vitamins and a commercial dry dog food. Some breeders have their own dry food specifically for foxes. Pick a diet that works for you and your specific fox. Keep in mind foxes need more taurine than dogs or cats. Commercial dog food has less taurine than commercial cat food, and foxes need more taurine than dogs or cats (taurine is a vitamin found only in raw meat). I personally find that Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten food works well, as it is high in taurine, mixed with veggies and fruit sparingly. 
 
  •  Step 5: When your fox arrives.
Let them scope out the environment, and though it is hard to not cuddle them and smother them with love immediately, try to let them gain a
 sense of confidence in your house first, like you would with a cat. Let them come to you. After a few days of them getting acclimated, then you can shower your love upon them. I would even recommend holding them even if they don't want to be held to show them it's not a bad thing. Reward them with their favorite treat (mine loved Cheerios) after they put up with you holding them. The process of holding-reward holding-reward will train their mind to think you holding them is awesome.
  •  Step 6: Foxy maintenance.
Your fox will require a lot of maintenance, like a dog or cat x3. They still need the obvious things, food, water, nail trimming like a dog, but they also require more  1 on 1 time, unlike a cat, which will do it's own thing. Make sure you have at least 3 or more hours dedicated a day to 1 on 1 time with your fox. If you don't have at least that much time, maybe a fox isn't for you. And when you trim their nails, make sure you handle their feet a lot so it is something they are used to.
  • Step 6: Training. 
For more in-depth training, see my training page, but just make sure you spend at least 30 minutes a day in training sessions. Training works best when you are consistent. Never ever let your fox play with ANYONE unsupervised, anyone who might get injured (usually because they were too rough with the fox) can always pull the 'it's a wild animal' card in a court of law.
Do you have any other animals already?

Here are some tips for introducing foxes to other household pets. While every animal has their own personality, more often than not they will get along if introduced properly.

  •  Scent, scent, scent! Much like you are supposed to take your own article of clothing and place it in your fox's cage to bond, you can take a blanket, or shirt, or other material your other pet sleeps on or uses for the fox, or vice versa, for them to get used to. The scent will help them prepare for meeting the new fox.
  • Always introduce them in a spot that is neutral. Never introduce the two pets in an area the fox thinks is his, or an area say the cat thinks belongs to him, such as near a cat tree. If one animal thinks he owns the area, things are likely to get heated, as they will protect their area.
  • Always reinforce positive behaviors with treats. Rewards for good behavior will show them the new animal is fun and exciting.
  • Make sure the biggest animal is adopted first, if possible. Even though you should always supervise foxes with other pets, make sure that if it is possible the animal you get first is bigger than the fox. It will help the bonding process. For example, if you have a 20 pound cat, then get a 10 pound fox, it should be fine.
  • Never let either animal feel threatened. If they want to run away, let them. Don't make them feel backed up in a corner - figuratively or otherwise - or they will attack.
  • No small pets. Never, ever let your hamster or gerbil, or any other type of rodent/bunny/marsupial interact with your fox. This is not a good idea, as they could be best friends and one day the fox might get a wave of wild instinct and snap.
  • The changes. The old pet will have to get used to either not being the only child, or having it's favorite toys moved, etc., so I would recommend trying to have play-dates with other animals to see how it does on a sort of "test run."
  • ALWAYS keep it fun. Positive, fun reinforcement will make the older animal look forward to play sessions with the new animal!
  • As with any training, never yell, just correct them. They will fear training and interactions with the new arrival if you yell, or spank them. Try changing your tone so they know you are unhappy with them.
  • Always end with a treat or good memory, so they see it as having fun.