With their big eyes and small statures, it’s easy to fall head over heels for gray foxes. But is having a pet gray fox right for you? Like any captive bred wild animal, living with a gray fox can be an absolute nightmare if you don’t know what to expect. If you are looking for advice on what it is like to keep a gray fox as a pet, read on!
The first thing you must determine before purchasing one is whether or not grey foxes are legal pets in your state. In most states, keeping a gray fox as a pet is illegal. In the case owning a gray fox is legal where you live, there are likely restrictions from your city, county, or even your HOA. Do your research and find out what permits will be required should you get a gray fox. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE WILD GRAY FOXES IN AND TRY TO MAKE THEM PETS. If you find a wild gray 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.
I you read nothing else on this page, read this: Gray foxes are not true foxes and will DIE if vaccinated like one. Foxes such as the red, arctic, and fennec fox are all true foxes in the genus Vulpes. Gray foxes, however, are in the genus Urocyon. Because of this, gray foxes have different veterinary needs than any other fox species you will see as pets.
Before you get a pet gray fox, it is imperative that you have an exotic animal vet who sees them already lined up for your new pet. Most vets won’t treat any kind of fox. Additionally, most of the vets that do see foxes don’t know enough about gray foxes to properly care for them. This lack of knowledge surrounding gray fox veterinary care often results in the animal dying of vaccine induced distemper. Consequently, it’s vital to not only research ahead of time and find a knowledgeable, experienced vet, but know the basics yourself. That way, you can confirm with your vet what medications and vaccines they are giving your pet gray fox.
Gray foxes also are experts at hiding their illnesses until it’s too late. For that reason, staying on good terms with your vet and having an emergency vet are recommended. Regular check ups, including blood work, fecal, and heartworm checks are necessary in order to keep your gray fox healthy and happy. If you start young and work with both your vet and your gray fox frequently, visiting your vet is a easier process.
You can vaccinate your pet gray fox for rabies with an inactive/killed rabies vaccine.
DO NOT USE A DISTEMPER VACCINE ON GRAY FOXES, THEY WILL DIE. While red and arctic foxes can be vaccinated for distemper with a vaccine containing a modified live distemper virus, gray foxes cannot. This is because gray foxes end up contracting vaccine induced distemper, which will kill them. [X] We know of too many pet gray foxes that wound up dead as a result of improper vetting. To avoid this, make sure you discuss your foxes vaccinations with your vet before any are given.
If you are keeping your gray fox outdoors or in a place where distemper is common, the Canarypox-vectored recombinant CD vaccine is shown to be safe and effective on Urocyon foxes [X]. However, if you choose to go this route, make sure you find a vet who has successfully vaccinated gray foxes with this vaccine before. Your pet gray fox is more likely to die of vaccine induced distemper than from distemper acquired any other way.
Providing your pet gray fox with a proper diet is a requirement for keeping your animal happy and healthy. Gray foxes aren’t a pet you can just go out to the store and buy a bag of kibble for. For that reason, it takes it’s a fair amount of work to ensure their diet is correct to keep them healthy.
Since gray foxes are omnivores, they benefit from having some fruits and veggies in their diet. Their main meal, however, should be raw meat. Gray foxes are a bit more omnivorous in the wild opposed to the other foxes we’ve written care guides for, but meat is still the largest part of their diet. Whole prey is an amazing way to get everything your pet gray fox needs without all the measuring. Unfortunately, that’s not always the easiest to find depending on where you live. When you can’t find whole prey, balancing out your pet gray fox’s diet is very important. This task can seem daunting, but isn’t that difficult once you get the hang of it.
To Be nutritionally balanced, your pet gray fox’s diet should have:
65-70% 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.
The remaining amount should be fruits and veggies that are safe for pets.
Eggs are a lot of foxes’ favorite food, and while gray foxes can have raw eggs occasionally, boiled eggs are actually better if you feed them often. Too many raw eggs can cause a biotin deficiency due to the high levels of avidin, which binds biotin.
Keep in mind, while pet gray 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. Feeding leaner white meats is better for gray foxes. Other meats such as rats and mice are high in retinol. Meaning while they can be safely fed, you must wary of how often or how much they are given.
At Exotic Pet Wonderland we feed our gray 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, blueberries, 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.
On top of balancing out a raw diet, there are several supplements you can give to help keep your pet gray fox healthy, the most important one being taurine. Gray foxes are somewhat picky and won’t always like certain meats. In that case, you supplement with at least 500mg of pure taurine powder. This should help offset their picky eating.