Authors: Linsey Hembree and Nessie O’Neil
Having a pet Arctic fox can be like living in a fantastic frozen fantasy, or it can make you feel like you’re in a brutal winter that never ends. Your experience will all depend on how well prepared you are. Arctic foxes aren’t an animal that just anyone can care for, but if you are interested having an arctic fox as a pet, then you’re in the right place
Before you even consider bringing a pet arctic fox in to your life, you need to look into legality. Not every state allows you to own a pet arctic fox. Even if the state allows them, there may be restrictions within your city, county, or even your HOA if you have one. While arctic foxes are not native to the US, if you happen to live in an area where they are native, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE WILD ARCTIC FOXES IN AND TRY TO MAKE THEM PETS. If you find a wild arctic fox in need of assistance, please find a rehabber immediately. Rehabbers can be found by contacting your local wildlife department or by downloading ANIMAL HELP NOW.
If you are considering a pet arctic fox as a companion, a large enclosure is a must. Arctic foxes do not do well indoors. It is near impossible to potty train an arctic fox. These guys have a skunky scent, and will normally mark anything they like. Not to mention, arctic foxes can be quite destructive indoors.
Arctic Foxes aren’t a pet you can just go out to the store and buy a bag of kibble for. It is necessary to make sure their diet is correct to keep them as healthy as possible.
Since arctic foxes are omnivores, they do benefit from having some fruits and veggies in their diet. Their main meal, however, should be raw meat. Whole prey is an amazing way to get everything your pet arctic fox needs without all the measuring, but that’s not always the easiest to find depending on where you live. When you can’t find whole prey, balancing out your pet arctic fox’s diet is very important. This task can seem daunting, but isn’t that difficult once you get the hang of it.
Eggs tend to be a lot of arctic foxes favorite food, and while they can have raw eggs occasionally, boiled eggs are actually better if you feed often. Too many raw eggs can cause a biotin deficiency due to the high levels of avidin, which binds biotin.
To be nutritionally balanced, your pet arctic fox’s raw diet should have: 75% muscle meat, 10% raw bone that is small enough to chew through-non weight bearing bones are best to keep them from breaking a tooth, 5% offal such as kidney, spleen, brain, etc, 5% liver, and the remaining amount should be fruits and veggies that are safe for pets.
At Exotic Pet Wonderland we feed our arctic foxes a variety of different meats including rabbit, poultry, seafood, goat, lamb, rodents, and eggs of all kinds. We also feed fruits and veggies including broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, pumpkin, celery, cucumber, squash, sugar snap peas and snow peas, blue berries, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, raspberries, apples being careful to exclude the core and seeds, cherries without the pit, and others that are in season at the time.
Keep in mind, that while pet arctic foxes do best with raw meat, some meats should be avoided. Meats such as beef and pork are more likely to cause gout in foxes. Both are fattier and cause their organs to work harder, not to mention pork can sometimes be a host to parasites that can be harmful to foxes. Since arctic foxes have the high uric acid levels just like red species do, feeding leaner white meats are better. Other meats such as rats and mice are high in retinol, so while they can be safely fed, be weary on how often or how much they are given of these meats.
One aspect of pet fox ownership people often overlook is vet care. Unlike dogs and cats, a lot of vets won’t treat pet arctic foxes. Most don’t even know enough about arctic foxes to properly care for them. Because of that, not only must you research ahead of time and find a knowledgeable, experienced vet, but to know the basics yourself. This way, you will be able to make sure you confirm with your vet what medications and vaccines they give your pet arctic fox. As arctic foxes are more sensitive to many medications compared to dogs, and fox specific vaccines don’t exist, it’s important to know what vaccines are safe. Unfortunately, many modified or live vaccines can quickly become a death sentence.
Arctic Foxes should be vaccinated at 6-8 weeks with a DAPP vaccine which will protect against canine distemper, canine adenovirus-2, canine parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus. Your fox will have to return to the vet in a few weeks to get their booster shots, and then return annually for this vaccination.
Then, at around 16 weeks, your arctic fox should receive a killed rabies vaccine. Depending on which vaccine it receives, your fox will need to receive another rabies vaccine every one or three years.
The nails on arctic foxes grow much faster than on red foxes and, due to this, your pet arctic fox should have it’s nails trimmed a minimum of every four weeks. Untrimmed nails can cause mobility problems, alter your fox’s gait, lead to arthritis, and result in extremely painful ingrown nails. Trimming your pet fox’s also nails also helps avoid painful and potentially severe health issues that can come from broken nails.
If you are going to keep an arctic fox as a pet, spaying or neutering it is highly recommended. This cuts down on hormonal aggression and excessive spraying. Fixing your arctic fox can be done between four to six months. However, these behaviors will not stop entirely as this is still a wild animal and behaviors like territory marking should still be expected.
For flea and tick prevention in Arctic foxes, monthly application of topical treatments like Revolution and Frontline is recommended.
Ensuring clean bedding, frequent bedding changes, and thorough cleaning of their living area is also crucial to protect your arctic fox against fleas and ticks. Frontline Spray on bedding also helps prevent infestations.