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Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Tell us a little about yourself, pets or whatever.

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x6herbius
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Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby x6herbius » Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:52 am

Hello all,

I’ve been perusing this forum lately and adoring all the pictures of your lovely animals, so I thought I’d make an account and go ahead and introduce myself! My name’s Jonathan but my online handle for an awfully long time has been “x6herbius”, and I hail from Sussex in the south east of the UK. I’m 21 and currently in the middle of a Computer Science degree at Warwick university (although I’m writing this now from a library in Hong Kong!).

As far as my own animals go, these bundles of fur are currently keeping us captive back home (click for larger):

ImageImageImage

Zafi is a Springer Spaniel who we obtained as a puppy from our cousins’ litter over in Somerset about 3 years or so ago; she’s named after the Vauxhall Zafira, as both my Aunt and Uncle run a garage in the village and so they and the kids named all the puppies after different makes of car. She was described as the most mischievous of the lot, which she certainly lived up to in the first year or so, but she’s become (a little) more sensible with age. She can commonly be found trying to sneak her way onto the duvets and soft cushions in the living room without anyone noticing. Ironically enough I seem to have more photos of her lying down than anything else, but that’s just because it’s the only position where she’s not a blur.

ImageImage

Shadow is a rescue cat that we got from the RSPCA centre in Patcham back in late 2010 - apparently he’d been left in their car park in a cat carrier one evening so they had no idea what kind of past he’d had, but contrary to a lot of rescue animals he doesn’t appear to have suffered any lasting damage from his early experiences and even begrudgingly tolerates the dog these days! Inexplicably disinterested in the cat flap, he’ll often listen for my Dad coming downstairs at 6 in the morning and will stand up on his hind legs against the outside of the front door so that his eyes just peep over the bottom of the frosted glass, in the hope that he’ll be let inside.

Aside from pets, I also enjoy doing amateur photography as a hobby - this kicked into gear about two years ago exactly when I became enthralled by the collection of wallpapers National Geographic had available on their website, particularly the ones on wildlife and landscapes. That Christmas I invested in an introductory DSLR camera (which was used for the above), but having managed to score an exchange trip to Hong Kong I decided to take advantage of the electronics markets while I’m here and have beefed up my kit (though as a result seriously beefed down my wallet D:). A great number of my photo subjects are furries, who have all manner of colourful costumes and make very interesting people to hang out with. :P

As far as exotic animals go, I’ve never owned one myself but I’ve always loved the company of animals (possibly reflected in the social choices in the above paragraph :P). I remember watching a documentary on the Russian laboratories that breed the domestic foxes and at the time I rather liked the sound of one as a pet, but it’s only been very recently that the idea’s hit home with a vengeance and motivated me to look up what owning such an animal would involve. I know it’s an enormous investment - more of a lifestyle choice, given the things I’ve been reading about the amount of care required, than just “another pet” - and so I was looking at this point to do research into what would be involved were I eventually to get one. I’ve never run the idea by my parents in anything more than a “Oh I’d totally love one of them” kind of way, but I can’t imagine them approving given the cost and work involved for all, and with myself being in full-time education only for a few more years I would expect it to be a decision it would be better for me to make on my own by the time I’m able to get my own place.

My questions, therefore, were the following:

  • Is it still possible to get domesticated foxes from the labs in Siberia? I am aware that they’re the most expensive source of all, but upon reflection I’d much rather go for a domestic fox than, as I read someone put it, “forcing myself on a wild animal” that’s merely tame. Not looking to judge other people’s pet choices, of course, but my preference would be for the fox to seek my attention, were it to seek it at all, rather than purely be nurtured to accept it, which I gather is the main difference between a “domesticated” and a “tame” animal. If I were to get a Siberian fox it would clearly be a long-term saving job (which could be somewhat risky given that I’ve heard the breeding program has had troubles with funding), but I figured that if you’re going to get a fox you’d want to make sure you got the right one - and with the addition of outdoor pens, vet bills, etc. etc. it looks like I should be braced for expense anyway.
  • How much time around the home do foxes require their owners to provide? I wouldn’t want to get one if I ended up with a job which kept me out of the house for large swathes of the day and caused the fox to be neglected. Our dog manages well enough at home but there’s usually someone in the house, be it my Mum or my brother before/after college, and I’d imagine foxes would if anything need more interaction than this.
  • Are foxes particularly difficult to look after? Bear in mind this is coming from someone who’s never owned any sort of exotic pet before, so I’m worried I wouldn’t know what I was doing!
  • In broad terms, are they worth the hassle? I think I can predict the answers to this one, but simply to play Devil’s advocate, I want to be at least reasonably sure that this isn’t just a flight of fancy for me and that I’m clued up on the cons as well as the pros. My hunch is that it would be more rewarding than an ordinary pet, but more strenuous too.

Thanks for any info you can provide!

PS: This guy runs our pet shop in the village back at home, and I’ve seen the fox first hand! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... n-pet.html
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TamanduaGirl
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby TamanduaGirl » Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:28 pm

So lovingly bottle feeding an animal so that it grows up to want and enjoy human attention is forcing and it's preferable that generations upon generations of foxes bred and kept in small cages to get genetically tame ones is the preferable option and less forceful?

Sorry if that sounds harsh but you say you don't want to judge but then basically accuse all ranch fox owners as well as all other exotic owners of forcing themselves on their pets.
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x6herbius
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby x6herbius » Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:09 am

Not quite the way I was hoping to start - this is the article I was referring to: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2 ... page=0%2C1 Quote just below the embedded video. I'm not accusing anyone of anything, just stating that this other person who already owns a fox (or owned, if the sad news I read was correct) preferred domestic ones for reasons that make sense to me. I have literally no idea about the ethics surrounding owning an exotic animal (you guys here are clearly the experts) and my intention was not to start a debate on it or to shame anyone - I'm purely looking for advice and to research, and that article was one of the things that came up in the research.

I adore all of what I've seen so far on these forums, and of course I must defer to people with years more experience and knowledge than I. I just assumed that the overall tone of the above post was clear enough.
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BlueBaby1023
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:26 am

Kay is a very nice woman from what I've seen and interacted with her on fox groups on Facebook, but everyone has their preferences. Her preferring domestic foxes rather than ranched is no different than someone preferring one breed of dog to another. I like Tibetan Mastiffs, my boyfriend is a fan of Cocker Spaniels, two sides of the same coin when it comes down to it. Her preferences are logical to her, not to the rest of us who advocate for all exotic ownership.

I think that was the mistake in your phrasing; this is an exotics website. TG has sloths, lots of us have or want to have foxes, skunks, raccooons, etc., and Pat, the owner of this website, has bears. None of us have forced the relationships we have with our animals on them, they have been raised to be tame but not genetically domestic. This does not mean they live unhappy, or unhealthy, lives despite how much certain organizations or the media would like you to believe it.

Coming from someone who came into the fox community much the same way you did, I really wish there were more scientific data on the differences between those foxes and ranched foxes. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot. There is some evidence to suggest there is only a handful of genetic differences between those foxes and ranched foxes, where as wild counterparts have thousands of genetic differences. But again, science is based on wash, rinse, repeat, which is simply not the case with foxes right now. So for now, anecdote is all that we have. And, anecdotally, the ranch raised foxes are not any more or less happy than Russians, and the general fox community knows a lot more about ranched foxes than about Russians.

Although I have long been a fan of Anya (RIP), I myself am never going to get a domestic fox from Russia. Ranched foxes show little to no difference, and they are, to anyone's best knowledge, not raised a whole lot differently from ranched foxes. There has been some rumor that they are not raised this way, but as far as I've seen, they do get plenty of human interaction from a young age just as ranched foxes do. The biggest difference in socialization is that ranched foxes don't tend to do as well as Russians do with "rehoming", which is why breeders sell them at a young age here (pick up at 4-6 weeks is typical).

Now, from a business standpoint, this makes sense. The same behaviors that the Russian scientists were breeding for such as complacency, willingness to be around people, lack of stress around people, etc. are necessary to breed into fur farm foxes. If you cannot handle the foxes you are breeding, it's impossible to provide good care. So, naturally, the animals you are breeding become more "domestic" over the years, even if tameness is not what is being selected for necessarily.

As someone who has had a number of "domestic" exotics my whole life, I'd have to say that it really just depends on the public's perspective. It's easy to see the differences in rats, rabbits, etc. that are domestic from their wild counterparts, but some other "domestics" like such as sugar gliders, skunks, etc. push the boundary of the "domestic" definition. Sure, we have bred different colors into them just as we have in foxes, but are they really domestic? It's a fine line.

Even domestic species need interaction from a young age to remain tame. Tame and domestic are completely different things. We have plenty of domestic house cats everywhere in the Western world that are not tame (ferals). These cats are not non-domestic, they came from the same lines and are genetically the same as domestics. Domestication is a genetic process, taming is a behavioral process. Even cats and dogs, which are by far the epitome of domestic house pets need interaction on a daily basis from a young age to remain tame even though their domestication will never change.

So, long story short, behavior wise a lot of people have said that tame ranch foxes are no different than tame Russians. Some personalities in individual foxes will allow them to be more interactive or less interactive, but this has little to do with being domestic. Some ranched foxes are comfortable being in public and around strangers while others are not, and the same is true for Russians. If you're interested in having a cuddly pet, they definitely aren't that (usually).

I'm looking forward to getting my first foxes this coming year, be it Reds or Fennecs, so I can't tell you for sure if there are any differences between them and Russians because I will never own both. I applaud Kay for the work she has done with importing Russians, but it's really not something that makes fiscal sense. Why spend $9k importing a fox that has the ability to be less tame than a ranch raised one that costs less than $500 (depending on where you get it, could be more based on color too)? Also, Kay works with someone else to only import to the US for now, although there have been foxes imported elsewhere. She is not actually an importer, either, she just works with someone who is and is a "spokesperson" per say.
4 Fancy Rats
2 American Guinea Pigs
1 Holland Lop Rabbit
1 Rex Rabbit
2 Ferrets
1 Lutino Cockatiel
5 Mixed Breed Cats
1 PitxLab
1 Great Pyr
1 Greyhound
2 Great PyrxAnatolian Shepherds
2 Red Foxes
5 Goats
~100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby TamanduaGirl » Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:06 am

Yeah everyone here has seen that article before, though this actually looks different from the original or I could just be remembering it wrong, the same quotes are there. It paints ranch foxes in a very negative light that is simply not true. Otherwise BlueBaby said everything much more eloquently than I can.
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x6herbius
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby x6herbius » Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:10 am

Fair enough. Thank you for clarifying and explaining all the above - I'm still very new to the whole thing, so rest assured faux pas are borne from ignorance rather than accusations! I can only apologise.

If it is indeed the case that the differences between Russian and ranch foxes are all but negligible, that does simplify things somewhat. I gather that special permits aren't required for keeping foxes in the UK either?
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BlueBaby1023
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:08 am

TamanduaGirl wrote:Otherwise BlueBaby said everything much more eloquently than I can.


Thank you. That's a bit of a shock to me, I thought I was rambling. Just up late with a bit of insomnia. XD

As far as I know there are no permits required to keep foxes in the UK.
4 Fancy Rats
2 American Guinea Pigs
1 Holland Lop Rabbit
1 Rex Rabbit
2 Ferrets
1 Lutino Cockatiel
5 Mixed Breed Cats
1 PitxLab
1 Great Pyr
1 Greyhound
2 Great PyrxAnatolian Shepherds
2 Red Foxes
5 Goats
~100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys
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pat
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby pat » Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:13 am

Jonathan
welcome to sybils message board.

thank you for doing research on foxes.

I would like to put my 2-cents in. for some reason, Russian foxes are believed to be like a dog.
but, what is not realized is Russian foxes will still mark and will require an outdoor pen.
all their natural behaviors is the same as ranch foxes.

Russian foxes are already socialized with people before buying them at 6-7 months old.
a ranch fox is purchased as a young kit. Therefore, it is up to the owner to socialize and understand
the fox. The more time that is spent with the fox, the better.

basically, what it boils down to is, whatever work is put into the fox will determine what type of fox you will have.
guess, kind of like dogs, cats and even kids :lol:
(of course hands on experience and lots of research before buying one is very helpful)

here is a basic Q&A sheet I did:
http://sybilsden.com/reference/faq-fox.htm

I gather that special permits aren't required for keeping foxes in the UK either?

I don't know what is required in the UK for a permit. Elina is from UK and would know.

I look forward to hearing more about your other critters.
thanks again for joining us, and doing research.
Pat (Sybil and Benny's Mom)

http://sybilsden.com Sybils Den
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pat
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby pat » Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:18 am

BlueBaby1023 wrote:
TamanduaGirl wrote:Otherwise BlueBaby said everything much more eloquently than I can.


Thank you. That's a bit of a shock to me, I thought I was rambling. Just up late with a bit of insomnia. XD

As far as I know there are no permits required to keep foxes in the UK.


I was posting at time you were.

meant to agree with TG. great post.
Pat (Sybil and Benny's Mom)

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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:43 pm

pat wrote:
BlueBaby1023 wrote:
TamanduaGirl wrote:Otherwise BlueBaby said everything much more eloquently than I can.


Thank you. That's a bit of a shock to me, I thought I was rambling. Just up late with a bit of insomnia. XD

As far as I know there are no permits required to keep foxes in the UK.


I was posting at time you were.

meant to agree with TG. great post.


Thank you. :) I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what the differences, if any, there were, so I'm glad it came out in a way that was clear. :lol:
4 Fancy Rats
2 American Guinea Pigs
1 Holland Lop Rabbit
1 Rex Rabbit
2 Ferrets
1 Lutino Cockatiel
5 Mixed Breed Cats
1 PitxLab
1 Great Pyr
1 Greyhound
2 Great PyrxAnatolian Shepherds
2 Red Foxes
5 Goats
~100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys
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Ash
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Re: Introduction, and some foxy questions!

Postby Ash » Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:06 pm

Hello, and welcome to the forum. :) I have two red foxes--a male and female--and have been very happy with them. All foxes have their own personalities, just like people. I love my two. :)

Hope you learn a lot! It's great to have you here.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas

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