On social media, photos of foxes kept as pets tend to get a lot of likes and comments. It doesn’t come as a surprise since many of them look a lot like dogs, and some of them are just about the size of cats. Jumping on the bandwagon can be highly tempting, which is why you may be wondering: Can I adopt a fox as a pet?
Adopting a fox as a pet is legal in some states. However, only certain fox species can be kept as pets where allowed. Buying a fox can cost anywhere from $400 to $10,000. Other expenses such as shipping fees, permit applications, and veterinary care can inflate the overall cost of taking care of a fox.
Before you get your hands on a fox, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
First, keeping a fox as a pet is not as easy and simple as keeping a dog or cat as a pet. It’s true that some foxes look and behave like dogs, while others are just as big as cats. However, foxes have behavioral problems, dietary needs, and living requirements that can make it challenging to make pets out of them.
Second, just because you can afford to buy a fox doesn’t mean that you can have one as a pet. In many parts of the US, it is illegal for anyone to have a pet fox.
And this brings us to this fundamental question…
In which states is it legal to own a fox?
There are 15 states where it’s legal for one to own a fox. They are: Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Tennessee and Wyoming. These different states allow private possession of different species of foxes.
Before you adopt a fox as a pet and prepare to arrange your life around it, make sure that you live where you can own a fox without you being reported by your neighbors to the authorities and winding up in jail.
Many states allow their residents to keep certain species of foxes alright.
However, it’s important to note that animal rights activists keep on fighting to make fox ownership illegal in all states. This means that you have no choice but to give up your fox if the state you are living in suddenly decides to make it illegal to own foxes.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should give up and stick to owning another wild or exotic animal.
Because keeping foxes, especially red foxes, is getting more and more popular as more and more people are discovering the many perks of having one, some states may make it legal for their residents to welcome foxes into their homes.
For instance, did you know that it’s illegal to own wild animals in New York except for fennec foxes?
In the past, fennec foxes, just like so many other wild animals, were not allowed to be turned into pets by New Yorkers. But owners of these foxes that behave like active dogs wrote letters to senators and visited them in person together with their pet fennec foxes to let them see for themselves that their four-legged friends make for excellent companions.
Needless to say, such activism led to fennec foxes being the only wild animals not banned in New York. Unfortunately, other fox species are banned in the state, including gray foxes that are the calmest and friendliest.
We will talk more about gray foxes (and other fox species that can be kept as pets, if the state you live in allows it) in a few, so please don’t stop reading now!
Before we proceed to the next topic, let’s check out these facts:
- Only 15 states allow the private possession of foxes with or without a permit.
- Only 14 states allow the private possession of red foxes.
- Only 13 states allow the private possession of fennec foxes.
Best Fox Species for Pets
What’s nice about foxes is that they are related to domesticated dogs. This makes them look very much like our barking buddies and just as easy to love, too.
It’s true that only one species of fox is domesticated. And it’s none other than the silver fox — also referred to as farm fox. However, many species of foxes can be turned into pets, too, for as long as they are tamed, trained and socialized while they are still young. For instance, many of them can be trained to use litter boxes!
There are nearly 40 species of foxes known to man. However, only a handful of them can be kept as pets. The rest would instead murder you than cuddle up with you or pose while you take snapshots of them.
Without further ado, here are some of the best fox species for pets…
Among all the fox species that can be turned into pets, none are as famous as fennec foxes. As a matter of fact, as earlier mentioned, fennec foxes are the only wild animals and fox species legal in New York.
In the US, fennec foxes are privately bred.
This means that there is no need for you to spend a great deal of your time and money getting one from North Africa to which fennec foxes are native. But just because you can buy one without leaving the country doesn’t mean owning one as a pet is cheap.
Fennec foxes cost around $2,500 each, which makes them some of the most expensive pets.
Refrain from assuming that you will have to spend $2,500 only to have a fennec fox in your home.
You will also have to shell out money for things such as shipping charges, licensing fees, special diet, and veterinary care. Taking care of a fennec fox for 10 years (it can live for up to 15 years) will require you to spend approximately $24,000!
Here are some quick fennec fox facts:
- They weigh two to four pounds.
- They can be anywhere from 12 to 16 inches long.
- They are the smallest fox species.
- They have massive bat-like ears and hairy paws.
- They come in many colors, from almost white to reddish cream.
They may not be as popular as fennec foxes alright. However, many say that red foxes are some of the sweetest foxes of the bunch. As a matter of fact, some red foxes are known to be as affectionate and clingy as indoor cats.
Despite their name, red foxes come in various colors, although red is the most common color. Some red foxes are reddish-brown, while others are light yellow. There are also black ones, white ones, and those between different colors.
So, in other words, there are many colors to choose from.
Earlier, we mentioned that red foxes are similar to cats behavior-wise. There is another thing about them that’s similar to cats: they can be territorial, too. It’s because of this why red foxes are fond of spraying things and surfaces with their urine. The problem is that their pee is the smelliest of the fox species!
The good news is that neutering can help deal with the matter a bit. And by the way, red foxes are some of the cheapest foxes you can keep as pets. A red fox can cost about $400 only.
Here are some quick red fox facts:
- They weigh eight to 15 pounds.
- They measure anywhere from 36 to 42 inches.
- They grin when they are anxious or terrified.
- They are known for their fluffy, white-tipped tails.
- They have five-toed front paws and four-toed hind paws.
As mentioned earlier, there is only one species of fox that’s domesticated: the silver fox. Despite this, not a lot of people who would like to keep foxes as pets opt for silver foxes, and it’s for a couple of reasons.
First, silver foxes can be really difficult to acquire.
Second, because they are not easy to obtain, they can be really expensive.
Silver foxes are the outcome of a breeding program that took place in Russia in 1959 to understand the domestication of wolves into dogs.
Through this experiment, silver foxes turned into smaller and less-smelly foxes. What’s more, they exhibited dog-like characteristics.
For instance, silver foxes wag their tails when happy, just like dogs.
Speaking of which, the cost of silver foxes is similar to the cost of expensive dog breeds: around $10,000.
And because silver foxes are available from Russia only, many of those who would like to keep foxes as pets consider going for other species of foxes that are so much easier and cheaper to acquire.
Here are some quick silver fox facts:
- They tip the scale at eight to 15 pounds.
- They can be as long as anywhere from 36 to 42 inches.
- They have coats that can range from silver to almost black.
- They can create many sounds, and the most distinct is a gekker, which sounds like a chuckle.
- They are the same species as red foxes — silver foxes make up about 10% of the population of red foxes.
Also called polar foxes or white foxes, Arctic foxes are similar to red foxes. However, they are smaller than red foxes.
Despite this, Arctic foxes are not as excellent as red foxes as pets. That’s because they tend to be territorial, which means that your home will surely smell like pee — the urine of an Arctic fox can be really smelly!
The name makes it obvious that their species have adapted to life in the Arctic. So, in other words, they are sensitive to high temperatures and can overheat faster than other fox species.
Among all foxes on the planet, Arctic foxes are the only ones that can change the color of their coat.
During the hottest months of the year, their coat turns from white to brown. And when winter strikes, their coat turns to bright white. In the wild, this ability of theirs allows Arctic foxes to camouflage very well for survival.
In the US, there are breeders of Arctic foxes. Unfortunately, they have a very small breeding stock, which is why some of the Arctic foxes available in the country have genetic defects. By the way, if you want to keep an Arctic fox as a pet, you will have to shell out around $600.
Here are some quick Arctic fox facts:
- They are just about the size of domestic cats.
- They weigh only six to 10 pounds because of their size.
- They usually do not grow longer than 28 inches.
- They were going extinct until a hunting ban in 1928 kept that from happening.
- They are monogamous animals — they stick with their partners for life!
In the past, gray foxes were the most common fox species in the US. However, deforestation and human intrusion caused red foxes to become the most dominant fox species in the country.
What’s lovely about gray foxes is that they are considered the calmest and friendliest of all fox species.
They are affectionate, too, which makes them wonderful pets. And here’s something that will make anyone who is a neat freak happy: the pee of gray foxes are not as smelly as the urine of other fox species.
But just like most other foxes, gray foxes are fond of digging and chewing. This means that you should get ready to see holes in your carpet, sofa, throw pillows and others should you decide to own one.
Unfortunately, gray foxes are not cheap. Owning one will require you to spend around $8,000.
Here are some quick gray fox facts:
- They can weigh anywhere from eight to 14 pounds.
- They can be as long as 31 to 45 inches.
- They are known to be monogamous, just like arctic foxes.
- They are compared to domestic cats behavior-wise.
- They are very good at climbing trees — and they can descend trees either head or tail first!
What You Should Know Before Adopting a Fox
There is no denying that foxes look a lot like dogs. However, as far as taking care of them as pets goes, these furry creatures are quite different from our tail-wagging chums.
When it comes to adopting a fox, the fact that foxes are illegal to be turned into pets in most states is proof that having them in your life will be a totally different experience from welcoming a canine or feline into your home.
Foxes require different things from dogs and cats in terms of training, diet, care, and safety of people.
If you live where it’s legal to have a pet fox and think of buying one, read on. Below, you will come across just about everything you need to know about owning a fox.
Foxes can be trained alright. However, training them is nothing like training dogs, which are related to them. There are many behavioral problems in foxes that cannot be managed completely.
So, in other words, owning a fox will require you to rearrange your life around the animal.
Just like when it comes to training dogs and cats, the best time to train foxes is while they’re still young.
For instance, adult foxes will refuse to be put on a harness. But if foxes are trained to wear a harness early in life, they are less likely to attempt to chew off their harnesses and leashes in adulthood.
When it comes to litter training, some fox species are very good at using litter boxes. Red foxes and gray foxes are known to use litter boxes all the time.
However, they will still spray their pee on things and surfaces to mark their territory. Fennec foxes, on the other hand, tend to use litter boxes sporadically.
Since they are related to dogs, pet foxes can thrive on dog food.
As a matter of fact, they can also thrive on cat food, which is recommended by many. That’s because many cat food variants are rich in taurine, which is an amino acid. Foxes need enough taurine.
Otherwise, they may go blind, have seizures and even die.
Besides high-quality dog food or cat food, it’s also a good idea to offer foxes raw meat.
But to keep them from consuming harmful bacteria present in raw meat, they should be given whole prey items. Some good examples are rabbits, squirrels, chicks and mice.
Foxes are skilled hunters. To keep foxes kept as pets happy, they should be given the opportunity to use their superb hunting skills like their wild counterparts.
It’s because of this why, from time to time, their food should be hidden for them to find or placed in containers that they can rip apart, such as cardboard boxes or plastic bags.
Foxes have lots and lots of energy.
Because of this, those that are kept as pets should be allowed to run, jump, foray, dig and play.
Needless to say, keeping foxes in small cages is a terrible idea, although fennec foxes and other small foxes are fine to be kept inside small apartments and condominiums.
It’s a great idea to keep a fox in a large outdoor enclosure. The enclosure should measure at least 10 feet x 10 feet. Besides being spacious enough for a fox, the enclosure should have a double-door entrance and be escape-proof, too.
Having another pet should be considered if there is no abundant outdoor space available for the fox.
Even the most tamed and housebroken fox can still be territorial. Needless to say, having a pet fox can make your home smell like pee — the urine of some fox species smells just like extra-strength skunk spray, whose smell can be hard to remove.
However, neutering a fox can help keep urine spraying to a minimum.
Speaking of which, not all veterinarians can provide the medical needs of foxes. Before you buy a fox and keep it as a pet, make sure that there is a vet in your area specializing in taking good care of foxes.
Besides making sure that the fox is out of harm’s way, it’s also of utmost importance to check that you, your family members and your neighbors are safe.
This is especially true since some of the primary carriers of rabies in North America are foxes.
If a pet fox happens to bite someone and that person reports the incident to the authorities, the animal will have to be killed. This is the only way to check for the presence of the rabies virus, which can be found in the brain tissue.
Just Before You Attempt to Adopt a Fox
Because of the current popularity of keeping foxes as pets, many think that taking care of them is as easy as taking care of dogs and cats. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
Can I adopt a fox as a pet? You certainly can!
Just make sure that you live where it’s legal to keep foxes as pets.
Similarly, you should be willing to spend anywhere from $400 to $10,000. You should also be able to afford to spend more money for licensing fees, special diet needs, veterinary care and adjustments to your home and, in many instances, outdoor living space, too.
Having a fox will surely make you a social media star.
But if your reason for owning one as a pet is just to get a lot of likes and comments, look for another unique pet to take care of. Even the most docile and affectionate fox you can find is still more challenging to keep as a pet than a dog or cat.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.