This section of the site covers the diet of a fox and how you would go about adopting one, such as the pricing, introducing them to other pets, and selecting a proper breeder.
I want a Fox!
We get asked this question so much we don't even answer anymore sometimes. People ask us 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 veterinarian 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 from a shelter first, but as long as you are prepared for this animal whose life will now depend on you solely for up to 18 years, and will most likely not act like a dog, then proceed.
The biggest thing to remember is that you should not get rid of your fox if it doesn't act the way you expect. They tend to calm down (as much as foxes can) after 1 - 2 years.
This is a tricky subject to discuss. While there are many opinions out on the internet, you need to make sure you consult someone who has experience. First and foremost we recommend you contact your veterinarian to verify the diet you are feeding your fox will work.
That being said, we have been pet trainers, veterinary technicians, and have worked with many many foxes and exotic animals from tigers to flying squirrels. While foxes are omnivorous, they will choose meaty foods over herbivorous foods any day. Some feed their foxes raw diets, which is fine if you know what you are doing, and some feed a mixture of cooked foods, fruits and veggies, and dry food, which also is fine (and makes their feces and urine smell less).
Foxes should NEVER EVER be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet. This will lead to liver, kidney, and heart failure, fast. While the fox might seem healthy, foxes are experts at masking symptoms, and over time the organs start to fail and they may not even show symptoms for years until the damage is irreversible and it is too late. They will die a painful death. If you want a pet that eats vegetarian or vegan foods, get a hamster or a bunny. All foxes, even if given a dry food, need high taurine in their diet, an essential amino acid, to help with their reflective retina called the tapetum in their eyes like cats have. This helps them see in the dark at night, since most foxes are nocturnal.
Each fox species is slightly different, and you should try to keep their diet as close to the wild as possible. For example, if you have a Kit Fox and because of your situation you can only feed dry and mixed fruits and veggies - plus some meal worms as treats - you should try to feed them a food that has Rabbit in it primarily. Blue Buffalo makes a variety of flavors that can help you match what they would normally eat in the wild as best as you can. One of the best kibbles we have found though is the Ultimate Protein Canine Chicken.
Fennecs specifically for example, need more UVB, calcium, and vitamin D. Fennecs need about 93 IU to 140IU per day of vitamin D based on how much they eat, while red fox studies showed they only need 82 IU vitamin D per 100g of food. 28g of Stella & Chewy's Freeze Dried Herring & Tuna would be a great source for vitamin D. All foxes need a food high in taurine, a vitamin normally found in raw meat, or supplements of it when the diet is lacking. Retinol is something that is VERY dangerous if overlooked. Retinol isn't like most vitamins which are urinated out if over-ingested. Vitamin A is what Retinol is commonly called, and it will get stored in the body in fat deposits. Most of the time you will hear of Fennecs specifically with kidney problems, and often this is because Retinol has been stored as fatty deposits in the kidneys, and will adversely affect them. Too much Retinol can cause kidney failure, liver disease, and brittle bones that break easily. Too much Retinol will cause a build up in between spine vertebrae, and once foxes start showing symptoms, it will be too late. Foxes are good at hiding their symptoms like cats.
One of the best kibbles to feed is Instinct Ultimate Protein Canine Chicken Kibble. This kibble has only 11800 IU/kg retinol but that is still more than 10 times over the recommendation. This kibble is higher in taurine, and can be mixed with veggies (orange veggies like sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots have been shown to extend a dog's life) and fruit sparingly.
Our other tabs show what each fox would eat in the wild, so depending on what species you get, you should try to match it as best you can what they would be eating.
See left for a picture of a fox that has too many retinol build ups in between vertebrae on it's spine.
If you are choosing a dry food as your base option, you want to make sure you choose a high quality one for your base food. When looking at the recipe and comparing ingredients, you want to make sure the first item on the list is meat. While rabbit is the best type of meat for foxes, deboned chicken, chicken, etc. are great examples. If something says 'chicken by-product,' that means that the scraps unfit for human consumption can be included and all ground up. This includes beaks, feathers, etc. Avoid any food that has meat by-products in it. Also avoid foods with corn or corn gluten meal in them, as foxes would not normally eat corn or most grains in the wild. If given grains, such as cheerios, they should be given as treats and not as often.
Best examples of food brands are Instinct's Ultimate Protein Canine Chicken, Fromm, Taste of the Wild, Merrick, and Castor & Pollux Organix, and Blue Buffalo Wilderness. Usually brands sold exclusively in pet stores tend to be better brands than ones widely available in most stores. Selecting a dry dog food higher in taurine or adding taurine supplements would be best, either in a paste, powder, or tablet form, but some owners report success feeding a mixture of dog and cat dry kibble for the base food since cat kibble has more taurine.
*Some of these foods on the chart canines can have should only be in moderation, such as grains, cheeses, and fruit. Peanut butter should also not have Xylitol, a sweetener used in some peanut butter products.
Dry foods should not be the sole source diet for any fox. Fruits (sparingly, berries are lower in sugar), vegetables (veggies like boiled sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, etc.), meal worms, crickets, should all be mixed into their diet as well, to keep as close as possible to their original diet. Foxes should not be given too many veggies high in fiber, as they would not normally get these in the wild. Personally the diet that worked for us was Instinct's Ultimate Protein Canine Chicken as a base kibble offered at all times, thawed chopped veggies with each meal, different fruits chopped every 2-3 days (you don't want to overdo fruits as they will lead to high sugar intake and other problems), and we gave mealworms, crickets, and raw pre-made patties as treats every so often.
Some prefer to feed raw foods. There are a couple issues with raw food you should be aware of. Firstly, it has to be fresh, and should not be kept in the fridge for longer than 3 days if it doesn't have any preservatives in it, since harmful bacteria can grow any longer than 3 days. In the freezer it is fine for months like any dinner meat humans would eat. Once the food has been sitting out, if your fox does not eat it all right away, you should throw it out, as bacteria from the fox's mouth can grow and fester on the uneaten food in the bowl. The second issue with raw food is that it makes their stool and urine smell much worse. In an outdoor enclosure it may not be an issue, but inside the odor becomes quite pungent.
We do not recommend raw foods, because of the level of expertise it takes to prepare and store the food, but if you are committed to that level of food prep, it can be a great option to keep their diet the closest to the wild. There are lots of websites out there that will show you step by step how to prepare raw dog food, so we won't go into detail further on the matter. Just see the above facts about retinol, taurine, and other vitamins your fox needs.
However, as a treat, some companies make good raw food products, such as Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Dog Food. It is 90% rabbit with bone and 10% veggies and fruit, with no added retinol.
Some prefer to feed their pets live foods, such as feeder mice, chickens, etc. We recommend to avoid this due to the fact it will increase their prey drive instincts highly. This will also make their urine and feces smell strongly. Live mice are also sometimes harmful in the long run for your fox, especially Fennecs. This is because they are high in retinol, which can cause organ issues the longer it is ingested for. Live mice can also cause calcium build up in the fox's spine. Of all the live/frozen prey, rabbit is the lowest in retinol, but there are still always inherit risks. Please consult your experienced veterinarian.
Adopting a Fox - Preparations
- 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. We 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. The enclosure should have either a 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 escape artists.
- 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. We 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). We 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. We 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;
- Cage or Enclosure - can cost anywhere from $150 - $2,000 depending on the size of your fox and type of cage/enclosure.
- Food - will probably be about $40 - $50 per month
- Toys, Beds, Blankets, etc. - will probably be around $30 - $100
- Vet Bills - foxes need the same shots as small dogs, so that can run anywhere from $200 - $1000. You must select a reliable vet willing to treat your fox before adopting him.
- The Actual Fox (Estimates):
Red Foxes - $350 - $800
Gray Foxes - $350 - $800
Arctic Foxes - $400 - $800
Ruppell's Foxes - $850 - $1500
Kit Foxes - $1000 - $2000
Swift Foxes - $1000 - $2500
Pale Foxes - $1000 - $2500
Fennec Foxes - $2000 - $4000
Corsac Foxes - $2000 - $4500
- Step 4: Selecting a food that fits.
- Step 5: When your fox arrives.
- Step 6: Foxy maintenance.
- Step 7: Training.
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.