It is likely that few people have ever thought of raising a fox and the chances of being able to do so are probably slim, at best. Still, our family raised one many years ago and I can say that they can be wonderful pets, provisionally. Since there are virtually no guides out there for raising baby foxes, I thought it might be fun and helpful to write one.
A fox kit is an adorable critter that a lot of people would fall in love with almost at once, whether the person prefers cats or dogs. The reason both cat-people and dog-people fall in love with it is because this is an animal that shows some traits of both cats and dogs. However, it is a good idea to have an idea of what you are getting into before you try it, even if you have the chance.
General fox traits
It would be more descriptive than ambiguous to say that a fox is a cat-like canine. Foxes are members of the canine family, but they exhibit many traits that cats have. Among these, they are exceptionally inquisitive, they can climb nearly as well as a cat and like many cats, foxes have a keen intelligence, which enables them to figure out how to live and survive in the wild. All of these things are not necessarily good things if a person raises them in a home environment, though it is an experience that should be treasured.
Young fox kits
If the kit is very young, people will probably note that they have a rather cat-like appearance. The kit’s ears tend to be small but upright and the nose doesn’t get long until they get older. The claws aren’t retractable, but they can be quite sharp, amazingly like those of a kitten. Perhaps that is why they call a young fox a kit, because of its resemblance to a kitten. The sound they make, though, tends to be either a whimpering or high-pitched howl, until they get older. They don’t meow.
In the wild, fox parents are normally quite attentive. They’ve been seen playing and frolicking with the young ones, rather like a house cat might play with her kittens. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that raising a fox kit means that it will want almost constant attention. The whimpering and howling usually happens when they feel hungry, neglected or both. These are little critters that often demand more attention than a kitten or puppy would, and they can be quite vocal about it.
Fox asking for its doggy friend to come out and play:
Foxes are quite opportunistic feeders. They love meat like most canines and felines do, but unlike many, foxes will eat almost anything that is available, including raw fruits and vegetables. They are also master scavengers. This makes a kit pretty easy to feed, except that they seem to be nearly always hungry. If they get too hungry, the whining and howling starts again, until they are fed, and then only for a couple of hours until they think they are starving again.
Leaving any food out on a counter is most unwise with a fox kit in the house because they can smell it and are nearly as good in agility and jumping ability as a cat is. Since they will try anything from onions to meat to fruit, a little fox is likely to devour the meal before the adoptive family can.
Not everything that they will eat is good for them, either, so they should be specifically given high protein foods like meat.
Fox kits are naturally curious animals, again a great deal like cats. They also possess a keen intelligence. Put together, this combination means that closed cupboards, containers or almost anything similar is an open invitation for a kit to figure out how to find out what is inside the container or behind closed doors. Despite their small size, they are surprisingly adept at finding solutions, too. Often, the fox seems to be less concerned about the actual contents than it is in the challenge of getting beyond a closed door or into a closed container. In the process of satisfying their curiosity, they often make a substantial mess. A person raising a kit should be aware of this, lest they find cupboards and containers forced open and the contents strewn all over the place.
There is a way to lessen the mess-making, at least somewhat, though many people probably wouldn’t think about the notion right off: Don’t leave anything tightly closed. Much of the damage a pet fox is responsible for can happen simply because the fox tries so hard to open something. By making cupboards easy to open or leaving them slightly ajar gives the fox easy access, which helps them curb their curiosity while minimizing the damage.
There are probably few animals that are more playful than a young fox, except possibly otters. This can create a few problems if a person isn’t aware and ready for what a fox sees as being fun. As my mother put it, in regard to the kit we raised, “I came in one day to find my curtains shredded. That blasted fox was climbing up one side, racing across the curtain rod, then down the other side, in an endless loop. Curtain fabric is no match for those little, needle-sharp, fox claws!”
Few people who have been around a fox kit don’t fall in love with them. They are admittedly cute and obviously intelligent. There is also another advantage to raising one.
When people think of ‘mousers’, they usually think of cats. However, despite their size and even from a young age, foxes are natural predators of small rodents. Their senses are attuned to catching and eating rodents and even the play has the purpose of honing the skills they will use throughout their lives to catch their prey.
It probably wouldn’t be very wise to raise a fox in a household with pet birds or pet rodents of any sort, but it could be a great thing if there is an infestation of mice or other rodent pests. These animals have such a strong hunting instinct that chances are, it won’t be long before there are no mice, rats or squirrels in the house.
Raising a fox kit is challenging and, at the same time, something that can be interesting and entertaining, creating long-lasting memories. The experience is likely to be one that a person will keep for the rest of their lives. I would recommend it as a wonderful experience. There are simply a few things that a person should expect before they attempt it.