When exploring pet fox ownership, many people overlook the fact these animals require constant enrichment. Foxes are highly active animals and will become destructive when they don’t get the entertainment they need!
In their natural habitats, red foxes are constantly on the move, utilizing all their senses in order to survive. In the wild, this instinctual behavior keeps them engaged, alert, and fulfilled. However, when in captivity, these daily challenges and stimuli are frequently absent. Without adequate enrichment, red foxes will succumb to boredom, which can lead to stress, health issues, and behavioral problems.
The types of red fox enrichment we use at Exotic Pet Wonderland can be broken down into five categories: cognitive, sensory, food, motor, and social.
Cognitive enrichment refers to enrichment that provides mental stimulation for your pet. In the wild, foxes have to use their brains in order to stay alive, which actually works to keep them entertained. So, order to keep your pet fox from becoming destructive, you must keep their mind engaged as well.
PVC Jungle Gyms with toys
Smart dog toys
Please make sure you are watching your pet fox closely when it is playing with any small toys in order to avoid choking.
Rope toys are not recommended for foxes due to potential choking and impaction problems.
Sensory enrichment for your pet fox revolves around stimulating your animal’s senses. Sensory based fox enrichment can be broken down into four categories–olfactory (smell and taste), tactile, auditory, and visual.
Tactile enrichment refers to activities or items that stimulate an animal’s sense of touch, providing varied textures and surfaces to explore. This type of enrichment can include introducing materials like straw, sand, logs, or even water features into an animal’s environment. By offering different tactile experiences, caregivers can mimic the diverse textures an animal might encounter in the wild, promoting natural behaviors, mental stimulation, and overall well-being.
Tactile Enrichment Examples for red foxes:
Painting (with non toxic paint)
A kiddie pool filled with water, sand, ice, or plastic balls
Fur/wool from other animals
Olfactory is essentially a fancy science word that refers to one’s sense of smell. Olfactory enrichment describes the “addition of scents or scented material to an animal’s enclosure” (A Critical Review of Zoo-based Olfactory Enrichment).
Some examples of olfactory enrichment we use for red foxes are as follows:
Pet safe essential oils hidden around the enclosure
fur/wool from other animals
Pet safe artificial scents hidden around the enclosure
Herbs and Spices
Auditory refers to sound based enrichment. Just like humans enjoy listening to music and podcasts, sounds are a great source of fox enrichment as well.
Some forms of auditory enrichment for foxes are:
Singing to your fox
Playing sounds from other foxes or other animal species
When providing new forms of auditory enrichment, it is important to continuously monitor your animal for signs of stress.
For humans, things like going to an art museum, watching birds, or scrolling through Instagram are all visual enrichment. Just like humans, red foxes need visual enrichment, too! After all, can you imagine looking at the same thing every day?
Here are some ideas for visual enrichment for foxes:
Being able to see other animals (monitor your pet fox to ensure your animal is not destressed)
Changing your fox’s enclosure around
Planting a butterfly garden outside the enclosure
Adding a bird bath outside the enclosure
Food based fox enrichment is one of the most commonly used forms of enrichment. Food enrichment will not only keep your pet fox entertained, but it will also slow down the time your fox takes to eat, which will help keep your fox at a healthy weight.
Some food based enrichment for red foxes used at Exotic Pet Wonderland:
Kong treat toys
Fruit and other treats frozen in ice cubes
Coring apples and filling them up with other foods for a fully edible Kong like experience
Whole pumpkins or pumpkins filled with other foods
Hiding food around the enclosure
Placing fruit in a pool or tub full of water, ice, or plastic balls
Scattering food around the enclosure
Feeding whole nuts in the shell
When it comes to fox enrichment, “motor enrichment” does not refer to playing with motors, but instead keeping your pet fox physically active. It is important for your red fox to exercise not only to keep your animal entertained, but also to keep them a healthy weight.
Supervised Tug ‘O War
Going on a Walk on a Leash
Forms of social enrichment for foxes include:
Spending time with your fox, just talking and playing with your animal
Placing your pet fox with another fox, or a group of foxes (please seek professional advice before introducing a new fox to a group)
Training your red fox using a clicker or talk buttons
Training your red fox to walk on a leash
Social enrichment focuses on providing animals with opportunities for interaction with members of their own species and/or their human caregivers. In captivity, red foxes are social animals who bond closely with their caregivers and cage mates.