Social media is rife with videos of unusual and exotic “pets,” including red, fennec, Arctic, and gray foxes.
While these trending videos spark interest in foxes as pets, the fact is that this is not an animal that thrives in captivity.
Foxes of all species certainly spark curiosity, but they just aren’t meant to be pets, and here are five of the reasons why.
They Hate Life in Captivity
Foxes are adaptable creatures, but that does not mean that they are well-suited to living indoors. In the wild, foxes roam territory freely without being cooped up. For example, an Arctic fox can claim a patch of land that spans a thousand square miles! Imagine going from that to an enclosed house with no ability to roam.
It isn’t just the lack of territory and no ability to roam that makes captivity so hard for the fox, though. A captive life goes against the fox’s every wild instinct and forces them to question everything they know about the world.
Even foxes raised in captivity retain the natural instincts of a wild fox, leaving them straddling a great divide between wild and captive life.
They Have Incredible Amounts of Energy
Whether we are talking about a fennec fox, an arctic fox, a gray fox, or a red fox, these animals are high-energy. Just imagine how much energy it requires for a fox to travel through under-snow tunnels over a span of a thousand square miles!
In the wild, foxes can burn off their energy by running through their territory, playing with family members, foraging for food, and digging. Without appropriate outlets like these, a fox requires considerable enrichment to stay happy.
Without a natural outlet and enough enrichment, a fox will turn to destructive behavior in the home, including chewing, urine marking, and digging - they may even become aggressive out of frustration.
It’s A Psychological Nightmare
Foxes are shy by nature; they hunt at dawn and dusk and avoid human interaction when possible. Forcing such an elusive creature to live in the center spotlight is a psychological nightmare for them.
Despite being labeled as “captive-bred,” foxes are not a domesticated species. It took thousands of years for man to domesticate dogs, and foxes have not been kept in captivity for even a fraction of that. This means that your “captive-bred” fox is highly likely to live life like a wild fox.
Life with a fox is just as likely to be a psychological nightmare for you too. Active at dawn and dusk, a pet fox will adhere to their body clock so you won’t sleep in again. It’s not only your sleep schedule that will change - but the fox is also notorious for emitting human-like screams in the night – something that will jar you every time and really annoy your neighbors.
They Are Very…Fragrant
Scent is crucial in the canine/fox world. Foxes use scent to communicate, find partners, find food sources, and avoid predators. As necessary as scent is for the fox to discover information, it is equally crucial in sharing information with others.
Foxes secrete a particular smell from their scent glands and use that scent to identify themselves. Unfortunately, the smell released from those glands is similar to skunks and musk - not a scent that anyone would voluntarily experience more than once.
Keeping a pet fox means that your home will smell like a musky skunk pretty much all the time. When your fox is not leaving scent messages, it will likely mark territorial boundaries with urine and feces.
It Might Be Illegal
Keeping a pet fox is not legal in many states. One of the biggest reasons for the ban on pet foxes is that foxes are considered “rabies vectors.” A rabies vector species is a species that can carry the rabies virus but looks completely healthy. Since humans and other animals can contract rabies, owning a rabies vector animal is a significant risk.
Owning a pet fox is only legal in Arkansas, Florida, Delaware, Michigan, Indiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Even though owning a fox is legal in these states, ownership comes with many stipulations.
Owning a fox in a state where fox ownership is forbidden is a poor decision because it can wind up in you paying hefty fines, your fox getting put to sleep, and there is a risk that you will be subject to criminal charges.