Living with red foxes can either sound like a dream or a nightmare, depending on who you are. They aren’t an animal that everyone should have, but if you are interested in leaning about what it takes to care for and share your life with a pet red fox, you have come to the right place.
Are pet red foxes legal in your state? Before you even consider having a pet fox in your life, you need to look into legality. Not every state allows pet foxes, and even if the state allows foxes, there may be restrictions within your city, county, or even your HOA if you have one where you live. Here is a map of the states where keeping a red fox is legal. Keep in mind, all of the information given regarding pet red foxes is for captive born foxes, not wild born. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE WILD FOXES IN AND TRY TO MAKE THEM PETS. If you find a wild fox in need of assistance, please find a rehabber immediately. Rehabbers can be found by contacting your local wildlife department or downloading ANIMAL HELP NOW on your phone and searching that way. This map of states where pet red foxes are legal is kept as current as possible, but please ensure you do your own research regarding your city, as well and reach out to your state’s game department.
If you are considering a pet red fox as a companion, a large enclosure is a must. Red foxes do not do well indoors. It is near impossible to potty train a red fox. Red foxes have a skunky scent, and will normally mark anything they like. Not to mention, red foxes can be quite destructive indoors.
The basics for a red fox enclosure are:
The enclosure must have a full top and bottom. The top can be either a full roof or welded wire, and the bottom needs to be either buried welded wire, concrete, or wood.
Make sure all wire used is at least 12.5ga, preferably welded wire, and that none of the openings in the wire are larger than 2×4″. Any wire that is less than 12.5 gauge with holes any larger than 2×4 inches isn’t escape proof or safe.
A double opening, or catch door, is necessary to help keep your pet red fox safe.
The bigger, the better. Red foxes need lots of room, and it’s not fair to keep them in small cages. If you can’t provide an adequate home for a fox, please don’t try to change them to fit into your life.
If you’ve ever spoken to someone who owns or works with red foxes, I’m sure you’ve heard about their stench. Sadly most pet foxes, both red and arctic, end up being surrendered due to the lack of research or misinformation about their smell. The species, their diet, and whether they are altered or not will all play a part in how they smell. Red foxes have glands all over their body that help them to have that “wonderful” stench, and there is no way to descent a red fox. Not to mention, most of their scent will come from urine and feces. Red foxes use their scent to distinguish themselves, claim things they believe are theirs, and find a mate. However, when you own a captive bred fox, those things can be a real headache, especially if you try to keep your pet fox indoors. Since red foxes don’t fully litter train and have such a pungent odor, new owners can really get overwhelmed if they weren’t prepared. Even though you can’t completely eliminate a pet red fox’s odor, there are a few things you can do to help, and some of these things are great for their health as well.
Part of the reason pet red foxes stink, is because they have such a high uric acid level. To help that, feeding your pet red fox a diet that helps lower uric acid will help with their smell and overall health.
Cherries(the more tart the better, but make sure they are pitted before feeding)
Blueberries(or any berries really)
Avoiding red meat will also help uric acid, as red meats have higher uric acid levels.
A great supplement you can add to your pet red fox’s water to help uric acid is apple cider vinegar.
Exotic Pet Wonderland feeds our red foxes all of these things, and while it doesn’t completely fix the smell, it does lesson it and keeps them healthier.
Other than diet, getting your pet red fox fixed will sometimes help with their scent, especially during mating season because they won’t have the same desire attract a mate and therefore their smell won’t be as needed. Other than that, cleaning as often as possible and using products aimed at getting rid of skunk stench will help you stay on top of the smell issue.
One thing that is incredibly important to think about is your pet red fox’s diet. Red Foxes aren’t a pet you can just go out to the store and buy a bag of kibble for, and it’s necessary to make sure their diet is correct to keep them as healthy as possible.
Since red foxes are omnivores they do benefit from having some fruits and veggies in their diet, but their main meal should be raw meat. Whole prey is an amazing way to get everything your pet red 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 red 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 red fox’s raw diet should have: 70-75% 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.
Eggs tend to be a lot of 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.
Keep in mind, that while pet red 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 red foxes have the highest uric acid levels in most canids, 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.
And let’s not forget their need for taurine. Red Foxes need at least 500mg-800mg a day of taurine, so taurine rich foods should be fed with every meal. Some of the meats highest in taurine are :
Seafood such as scallops, mussels, whole tuna, and salmon
Poultry, especially in the dark meat of turkey and chicken
While meats with less taurine that are:
On top of balancing out a raw diet, there are several supplements you can give to help keep your pet red fox healthy, the most important one being taurine. Red foxes are somewhat picky and won’t always like certain meats, but if you supplement with at least 500mg of pure taurine powder that will help offset their picky eater.
At Exotic Pet Wonderland we feed our red 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.
One aspect of pet fox ownership people often overlook is vet care. Unlike dogs and cats, a lot of vets won’t treat pet red foxes, or don’t know enough about red foxes to properly care for them. Because of that, it’s incredibly important to not only research ahead of time and find a knowledgeable, experienced vet; it’s also important to know the basics yourself and make sure you confirm with your vet what medications and vaccines they are giving your pet red fox. Due to red foxes being more sensitive to many medications compared to dogs, and fox specific vaccines not existing, it’s important to know what vaccines are safe as some modified or live vaccines can quickly become a death sentence.