BLACK BEARS sybils den
 
Welcome to Sybil's Den.  This site is meant for information purposes  on raising  pet exotics animals based on my experience.  There are care sheets for black bears, foxes, raccoons, emus, farm animals and domestic animals.   Also please find a very informative message board with a lot of great members.

For some of the species of animals I have or had information on, You will find their photo gallery.
BLACK BEARS

 

Foxes as Pets

When considering a pet fox, there are several factors you must take into mind. What will you be able to tolerate in terms of smell? What will you be able to provide in terms of space for the animal? Can you find a vet near you, and if not are you willing to drive several hours to have your animal treated? Are you ready to face criticism from others? Have you researched its care extensively? What kind of fox is legal, if at all, in your area? Will you be able to introduce a fox into a home where other animals are already present? Are you able to commit up to two decades to a fox? Are you willing to give up free time and your vacations? Will you be able to deal with an animal that may never be able to be housebroken or litter trained? Do you realize that even with proper socialization and devotion, the animal may never bond to you and even be afraid of you?

Taking all this mind, review each species of fox and decide which one is best for you, if you pursue a fox as a companion at all.

All Foxes

Diet

Most foxes can be fed the same diet. What works for one fox generally will work for another, though this isn’t always true. However, bear in mind that the quality of the food will heavily affect what a fox smells like. Feeding a diet of raw meat will make a fox muskier, and in the case of fennec foxes, will make their feces smell. Poor quality dog food, such as Alpo, will also make a fox smell worse. Some breeders sell food specifically made for foxes. It’s important to realize that foxes are omnivores and model your diet towards that, as well as consulting with your breeder.

Shedding

All foxes will go through a period of heavy shedding when transitioning from their winter coat to their summer coat. Some foxes you will hardly notice a change, such as fennec foxes, which naturally live in Africa where the temperatures do not vary much, while Arctic foxes, red foxes and so on will shed heavily. Some will shed so heavily that bald patches will appear. This is normal. Foxes shed in clumps at this time, and otherwise do not shed very much.

Lifespan

All foxes require a commitment for their entire lifespan. A fox usually lives 10-15 years, though some foxes have lived 17-18 years. Be prepared to dedicate up to two decades to this animal. Foxes are not pets that you can just hire a pet sitter for. Be prepared to give up your vacations. They require a lifestyle change on your behalf, not the other way around. If you are not prepared to make a commitment to this animal for a decade or two, do not seek one.

Veterinarians

Like any other animal, foxes can suffer from a variety of ailments. All foxes will require an exotic vet. Just like with any other animal, you should seek a vet that is willing to treat a fox before acquiring a fox. Many regular vets refuse to treat foxes, as they consider them a wild animal, and some will actually call the police even if your animal is perfectly legal.

Legality

Before getting any exotic animal, check with every single regulation at every level. Check with your country, state, city and county ordinances. Check with zoning laws, rabies laws, and animal exhibition laws – check even where you think there wouldn’t be a law pertaining to an exotic animal. The last thing you would want is to be settled in with a fox only to find out that some obscure law that outlaws the possession of.

Do not keep a fox illegally! Many have tried and many have failed. This will most likely result in the seizure and euthanization of the animal, even if it is perfectly well taken care of and never harmed anyone.

It is also wise to have a paper trail for your fox. Keep your breeder’s receipt, health certificate, ownership transfer documents, health records and any other piece of paper that is related to fox. Paper trails make it easy to verify you have a legally owned, healthy animal in case that is ever threatened.

Breeders, Brokers and Auctions

When acquiring a fox for the first time, you should always choose a breeder. They will likely be able to help you and be more informative and reliable than a broker or buying from an auction. You should look to buy from breeder who is USDA licensed, though not all USDA licensed breeders are good. Look for reviews, check prices, and of course, ask lots of questions! The best breeders will welcome questions. Be wary of scams, and always try to talk face-to-face with the breeder and see the animals yourself before you buy. Often ads will pop-up to rehome foxes, but it is wise to for a first time owner to get an animal that you can raise yourself and bond to, as some rehomed foxes have unknown history and trouble getting along with their new families.

What kind of fox should I get?

Now that you’ve been briefly versed in general about all foxes, it’s time to narrow down the field and look at each different species of fox. Each one has its pros and cons, and while one fox might be perfect for one, might be a bad idea for another. Be sure to do your own research before deciding to acquire a fox.

Red Foxes

Note: This section doesn’t cover information on the domesticated Silver foxes from Siberia.

Information is based on red foxes owned in the U.S and U.K.

When you think fox, a red fox is often immediately what you think of. They are named for their classic red coloration, and one of the most well-known pet red fox is Todd from Disney’s Fox and the Hound. Despite being one of the more popular, easy to get and least expensive fox species, this species is perhaps the most demanding.

Size:

Weighing in at 15-25 lbs, these foxes are the largest of all known foxes. Tods (male foxes) are generally much larger than vixens (female foxes)

Price:

$100-500+

Price depends heavily on the breeder and the color that you choose. The classic red color often costs no more than $400 at the most, while rarer colors like Platinum and Amber can easily cost $300-500 or more. Cross, Marble and Silver are very common color phases that will often cost inbetween the cost of a red fox and an uncommon color phase. Foxes can be found for as little as $175 by some breeders.

Legality:

Some countries do not allow foxes at all, as in some they are considered pests and even invasive species.

Because red foxes are native to many states, they can be difficult to acquire in the U.S. . They are often thought of as a rabies risk, though rabies cases in the U.S. have become quite rare, and there have been no cases of rabies in the captive population of foxes.

The red color phases is often not permitted as a pet, while other color phases are considered domestic and allowed.

Many states do not allow foxes at all, so as always, check the legality where you live.

Caging Requirements:

This species will definitely require an outdoor enclosure, or some large enclosure of some kind. A large dog kennel works for this. At the very least the enclosure should be 8x6 feet in size, and often that is the minimum size required by state regulations. You will need to make sure that the kennel is completely escape proof. The kennel will require a roof, and either a cement bottom, or a barrier that extends into the ground to prevent the fox from digging and escaping. As with any other animal, the fox should be provided stimulation while inside a kennel as well as protection from the elements. However, even with a large kennel, you should allow the fox some time outside of its enclosure.

Indoor/Outdoor:

Unless you are willing to live in a house that is very, very smelly, this fox will need to be kept outside a good chunk of its life. Regardless of the diet and color phase, these foxes are the smelliest of all foxes. Keeping them inside all the time is also likely to make them unhappy.

Color Variety:

Of all the foxes, red foxes have the most color variety. Color phases include the classic red, pearl, white, cross, silver, sapphire blue, silver white mark, platinum, sunglow, marble, blue, amber, burgundy, red white mark, calico white mark, gold platinum, amber white mark… the list goes on and on! Some colors are rarer than others. Amber and sapphire blue, for example, are more uncommon in the pet industry than marble and silver.

Odor:

As stated before, red foxes are the smelliest of all the foxes. These have a unique odor that is similar to a ferret. The odor of the fox itself is not generally a problem, rather, the feces and urine. The best ways to prevent smell is to spay and neuter your fox and have them on a high quality diet. Dealing with the smell involves constant changing of the litter box. Some color phases are also reportedly less smelly than others. The red color is supposedly the smelliest, while marbles are less smelly, as well as other ‘domesticated’ colors such as platinum and calico. This could be a result of domestication, where these colors have less adrenaline and melatonin, and therefore less of the chemical responsible for producing musk. This has not yet been confirmed, however.

House-training:

Red foxes ability to litter train largely depends on their personality. Some foxes will not take to a litter box at all, some will train about 50%, while some can be trained to almost 100%. This doesn’t include marking; even foxes that are nearly perfectly housetrained will still mark regularly.

Affection:

Once again, this depends largely on individual personality. Most foxes are only cuddly on their terms. Many will not curl up next to you like a dog or cat. When they demand their attention, they will demand absolute attention! There are a few exceptions; a few red foxes are quite cuddly and will lie next to their humans on a couch and watch TV with them. Keep in mind these exceptions are few and far apart; you’re much more likely to have a fox who is about as affectionate as an aloof housecat. Their affection will also largely depend on the time you invest socializing the fox when it is young.

Social ability with People:

Red foxes are largely one person foxes, and once more, this depends on personality and your own investment in their socialization. These foxes do not do well in situations with large amounts of people. Some foxes that were once friendly towards all people, when isolated, become only skittish towards people other than their owner. Therefore, these foxes require life-long socialization.

Social ability with Animals:

Once more – personality and socialization. Red foxes, as a general rule of thumb, should not be kept with animals smaller than them. That means cats and smaller dogs. Under no circumstance should a fox allowed near pocket pets, birds, etc.!! Foxes will recognize these small animals as prey and will kill them! Keeping a fox with cats and smaller dogs, even if a fox is raised with them, can be an accident is waiting to happen. While some foxes have co-existed with cats and small dogs without an issue, other foxes have attacked cats that they were raised with without any warning whatsoever. Some foxes love to play with other animals, while others are adamantly frightened by them. Always supervise a fox’s interactions with other animals.

Marking:

These foxes will mark regularly, which has no bearing to litter training. Intact animals will often mark more than fixed animals, and there is no difference in sex how often an animal marks.

Other notes:

Arctic foxes:

This is my personal favorite of all foxes. Overall, they have about a median price range, they make adorable vocalizations, have a lot of personality and generally are attentions hogs and will not smell themselves if they are fed the right diet. Most states allow these animals without a permit because they are not native to any U.S. state except Alaska (which doesn’t allow exotic animals anyway).

However, these foxes are not perfect. Of all the species, they tend to have health problems because of their narrow breeding pool in the U.S. These health issues can include such problems as epilepsy and problems with blood clotting. These foxes are somewhat difficult to litter train and are finicky about having a clean box. There is not as much information on these foxes as red foxes, so they may not be ideal for a first time fox owner. With proper care, however, these foxes have some of the longest lifespans of all foxes, as this species is confirmed to have lived 18 years in captivity.

Size:

Average: 6-10 lbs; range of 3-21 lbs

Price:

$300-800

The average price for an arctic fox is around $500, but these foxes can be found for as little as $300, and as much as $800 – not including shipping.

Legality:

As I mentioned before, arctic foxes tend to be allowed in many states that permit exotics because the only state they are native to is Alaska. As always; check all your legalities.

Caging Requirements:

This species should have an outdoor enclosure. A fox without an outdoor enclosure may be notably more unhappy, timid and aggressive if not allowed an outdoor enclosure. If you can’t provide a kennel, a room that is well fox-proofed works somewhat for this species. Some people keep them in the house most of the time, and put them in the garage at night. Others dedicate a room in the house to this fox. Some caregivers have managed to get by with only a large dog crate to keep the fox when it cannot be supervised, though you can’t necessarily rely on this type of housing, and should always be a last resort. These foxes will need to be cleaned up after more if kept inside.

Indoor/Outdoor:

Above, you may have gotten a gist of what is appropriate for an arctic. They can be kept mostly indoors or outdoors, and let outdoors (into a kennel of course) when they cannot be supervised or overnight. It is also helpful to do let any fox have some time outside to keep it happy.

Color Variety:

These foxes have some color variety. The regular color is referred to as polar, where an arctic will change its coat as the season’s change. Another phase but not really a color is shadow, where the fox will remain white all year round. A common color phase besides this is blue, which is actually a variation of the common polar white, and occurs in the wild. Blue can vary from light blue to dark blue. Blue foxes are black or dark gray-blue in the summer, and a silvery-lighter blue in the winter, and are never completely white.

These foxes have further color variety; however, foxes with color besides polar, shadow or blue are generally unhealthy animals. These animals, while reportedly very affectionate and sociable, have serious health issues such weak immune systems, bad fur quality, blood clotting problems where their blood is thin, does not clot, and therefore the fox can bleed out easily. These foxes may have drastically shortened life spans.

Odor:

The odor of these foxes depends very heavily on what you feed them. Low-quality food, such as Alpo, results in an offensive odor. Raw meat and produce can also make the fox muskier. High-quality food can result in little or no smell. Their feces do not smell that bad either, no worse than a dogs and the smell will dissipate with proper ventilation. Urine, however, can smell quite skunky and potent, as well as marking. These foxes do not smell themselves when you hold them, but their enclosures can get smelly fast, and if they roll in their urine/feces they will stink horribly (and they will if given the chance), so they must be kept clean to prevent that.

House-training:

Arctic foxes are somewhat difficult to litter train. Some owners do not have a litter box but simply let their fox out (into a fenced-in area, of course) to do their work. Arctic foxes will go in a litter box, but they are very finicky and will refuse to use it if it becomes heavily soiled. Because of their potent urine, litter needs to be cleaned a couple of times daily and changed weekly. Like other foxes, they will mark frequently regardless of litter training.

Affection:

Arctic foxes vary between affectionate and not, but they are one of the most attention grabbing little foxes out there. This further depends on the personality and your own investment in socialization. In my experience, they love attention, being scratched, but are not particularly ‘cuddly’ or enjoy being held, and will get grumpy, even nippy if forced to do so.

Vocalizations:

Arctic foxes are not quiet creatures. When they are upset or angry, they will make a, grunting, rasping noise I call ‘gruffing’ noise similar to a pig’s. They make little whines and squeals all the time when they are being pet, and will scream and cry for attention. My neighbors have told me that they thought they heard a turkey when it in fact turned out to be my arctic fox crying for attention.

They sometimes will scream their lungs out. They will wail and sound much like birds when they do. Kits will make a wailing-squaking sound when they get very excited.

Social ability with People:

Most (not all) arctic foxes are mellow, and do not mind being in large social situations. While they will likely bond to one person, they will often enjoy the company of other humans. They are very bold and not as shy as other foxes, and will do okay being held by different people, but can be easily startled by loud or quick movements.

They do take some time to get used to their new environments, however.

Social ability with Animals:

Arctic foxes can be kept with dogs and cats. They play in a manner very similar to dogs and do well with them for that reason. I recommend having a well-socialized, well behaved dog prior to getting your fox to help socialize it. They do fine with cats, as long as the cats are okay with a rough little kit. Arctic foxes, like many animals, can get very rough and aggressive when playing, so interactions between foxes and other animals should always be carefully monitored, especially when there is a large dog in the situation.

Breeders:

Other notes:

Fennec Foxes

Besides red foxes, these foxes are one of the most famous and well-known. They were introduced into the United States from Africa and bred as pets since the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. They are very popular as pets in Japan where they are even sold in pet stores. Jeff Corwin, animal and nature conservationist, owns a pet fennec fox.

They are the smallest of all known foxes and canids, weighing in at 2-3 lbs. They are known for their adorable vocalizations and are generally better accepted as pets than other species of foxes, likely because of their size and (supposedly) easy care.

Despite popularity and recommendations as pets for first time fox owners, there are a lot of misconceptions about them, and unpleasant features future owners need to be aware of.

Size:

2-3 lbs, the smallest of all foxes and Canids.

Price:

$800-$2000

These foxes, despite their popularity, are one of the most expensive foxes out there. This is likely because they can be difficult to breed and bottle feed, and have fairly small litters compared to other foxes Arctic foxes can have litters of more than 20, and can often have 10 or more. Fennec foxes, by comparison, generally have litters of five or less.

Legality:

Fennec foxes, because they are not native to anywhere except Northern Africa, are well received pets legally. There are some states where fennec foxes are the only foxes permitted.

Like with all other exotics, check your laws where you live.

Caging Requirements:

Many people prefer these animals because they do not require a large outdoor enclosure. These foxes can be housed in a large cat cage or ferret age. A favorite among fennec fox enthusiasts is the Ferret Nation Model 142 cage, which provides adequate space for one or more foxes. However, the more space the better for these foxes.

Indoor/Outdoor:

These foxes are almost strictly indoor. They should NEVER be allowed outside without a leash and harness, or in a very secure outdoor enclosure with a roof and bottom. They can easily fit through small gaps in fences so they should not be allowed-off leash anywhere except in your house. Fennec foxes, when taken outside, need to be kept on a secure harness and should only be allowed in controlled areas such as a backyard where there is little chance of a fennec getting startled and slipping out of its harness. They are very skittish and quick, and once they escape they are nearly impossible to recover.

Color Variety:

Fennec foxes have yet to produce any color mutants.

Odor:

Yet another reason many people prefer these foxes is their lack of odor. The excrements have minimal smell to them, but a bad diet or raw meat can cause a fennec’s feces to smell and even the foxes themselves to produce a slight musk. Though, fennec foxes tend to ‘go’ where they are, frequently soiling their bedding and therefore becoming covered in urines or feces, so these foxes may require frequent bathing.

House-training:

Fennec foxes seldom train 100% to a litter box. Many will urinate in the box but refuse to defecate there. Owners will have to be patient with this, as even with proper training, some will absolutely refuse the box. As mentioned before, many will simply go where they are and do not litter train at all.

Fennec foxes mark frequently like most other foxes.

Affection:

Fennec foxes are largely on-their-own-terms foxes. They rarely cuddle, and some are so skittish that you can hardly pet them. These foxes tend to have ‘mood swings’, being cute, cuddly and sweet one moment, then screaming and running around the next.

Most do not enjoy being held, and will beg for ear scratches instead. If you want a cuddly little fox , these foxes might not fit your ideals.

Social ability with People:

Fennecs are very skittish and wary, even of their own owners. They do very poorly in large social situations, and often are very off-put by strangers.

Social ability with Animals:

Marking:

Breeders:

Other notes:


 

Corsac Foxes

Swift Foxes

Gray Foxes

Other Foxes