Thinking about taming or domesticating a fox? Think again. You may have a regular visitor to your house that you want to turn into your pet fox, but don't be fooled by its cuddly appearance, furry tail and languid eyes. It is and always will be a wild animal, and wild animals are unpredictable. You're better off adopting a domesticated fox – and they are available – but check your local laws before doing that. Depending on the state or municipality – and the breed – it may be illegal to own one.
You may simply want to encourage your visiting fox to keep coming back. There's no law against that, and it's fairly easy to do. You'll want to think twice, though, before you let the fox into your house, because there's probably going to be trouble.
Foxes Are Not Dogs
Foxes and dogs both belong to the family Canidae, but the genetic line split some 7 million years ago. Dogs are members of the genus Canis while foxes belong to the genus Vulpus. This difference in Latin nomenclature indicates major differences between the two animals.
- Foxes have a shorter lifespan than dogs, and they are nowhere near as social. A wild fox may approach you for food, but when doing so, it's fighting an instinctual urge to either run away as fast as possible or bite off your hand.
- Besides being extremely shy, foxes are very difficult to train, partly because they have shorter attention spans. Even a house trained fox is likely to pee whenever and wherever it wants, and the odor of fox urine has been likened to that of a skunk.
- Foxes have a natural musky body odor that is impossible to ignore and won't go away.
There are two more problems with keeping a pet fox. It's temperamental, and even if you manage to house train it, won't get along with your other pets.
Domesticating a Fox Versus Taming One
A domesticated fox is one that has been bred in captivity. A group of Russian researchers notably created a line of domesticated silver foxes, but it took 30 to 35 generations of selective breeding to alter their genetic codes. These foxes will cuddle and display other types of pet-like behavior, and they even look different from wild foxes. If released into the wild, they probably wouldn't survive.
Tame foxes, on the other hand, are still wild animals. In stressful situations, your pet fox is likely to revert to instinctual behavior, which may include attacking you or someone else.
Befriending a Visiting Fox
Still want to make friends with that fox who regularly visits your property? As long as you remember that it's a wild animal and you adjust your expectations accordingly, you can do that. Here are some ways to do it.
- Put food out every day. Foxes like nuts and seeds. They will also eat dog food, but it's best to stay away from it to avoid altering their natural diet.
- Maintain a quiet space. Foxes are extremely shy and wary, and they startle at any loud sound. If you have pets, keep them away from the fox's feeding area.
- Don't get too close. Foxes have sharp teeth and claws and can inflict serious injury.