Foxes smell very strong, just ask anyone who comes close to us here at Exotic Pet Wonderland! The smell of the fox can very depending on the species, but the bigger the fox, the more they are likely to smell. Their scent comes from not only their excrement, but also several glands placed all over their bodies. Red and Arctic foxes especially have an unpleasant odor that is described as both musky and skunky, although arctic fox scent can also be considered a bit perfumey or sweet smelling on top of being musky and skunky.
Our two most surrendered species are red and arctic because of this reason, among others. We regularly get asked “Can you have a pet fox’s scent gland removed?” but due to the amount and location, that’s just not possible. Unlike skunks, foxes have glands on all four feet, on their face around their chin and jaw, sebaceous glands across their skin, and a spot near the base of their tail called the violet gland. For that reason, it isn’t feasible or safe for the fox to try and have them all removed, and any vet or breeder who says otherwise should not be trusted. It also wouldn’t help tremendously with either of those species since their urine and feces has a very strong odor, and foxes will mark everywhere.
Now, as I said before, different species smell different. If you’re really concerned with smell, you might want to look into a species like gray foxes. Grey foxes don’t smell near as much or as bad, generally litter train, and are just overall easier to keep indoors. Our gray uses her litterbox very well, and has very little odor compared to all of our other smelly sweethearts. If you are determined to have one of the smellier species in your life, there are ways to help you deal with it.
Since personality wise all foxes are very different, smell should only be one factor in deciding what you prefer. The number one way I can think of to help with pet fox smell would be building an outdoor enclosure for your smelly baby, and cleaning frequently! There are also things you can change about their diet to help, which we’ve listed in our “Foxes as Pets” section under “Do foxes stink?”
Even though they are a bit stinky, every fox is very unique and can be a wonderful companion as long as you are prepared. We love our foxes equally, and it’s my dream to be able to learn how each species differs personality wise and scent wise. When you love them, the smell doesn’t seem to even bother you in time and most owners report that in time, they go “nose blind” to their fox’s smell.