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Hand-rearing my first litter...?

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Sammy
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Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Sammy » Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:14 pm

So, my first litter is expected by next Monday and I just want to be as prepared as I can...
I want to pull the kits from their mother after a week of their arrival and begin bottle feeding them myself. I've read that some puppy formulas are good for them, but would anyone recommend something specific?
I've also read and been told by other breeders that kits should go home with new owners at around four weeks, but I've been thinking that five might be better so that they can be weaned properly. Will this effect how they will imprint on their new owners? Also, I'm not positive on when silver fox kits should start eating hard food. Is five weeks a good time for them to be weaned?
Thanks for your time and patience. I'm a young, new breeder and really appreciate all of the feedback I've been getting from you all :)
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Ash » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:24 pm

Your number one place:
http://www.foxvalleynutrition.com/product-lines/milkreplacers/

Used by rehabbers, breeders, owners, zoos, etc. They get back to you within the day and then ship your order practically overnight. They are honestly the best. So definitely get the fox kit formula from them.

So what makes you think she's pregnant, out of curiosity? (Really, just wondering since foxes can go through false pregnancies as well.) Did you see her tied with the male ever?

And if you need any help on obtaining your USDA license so that you can legally sell the kits, do not hesitate to ask. We're here to help, and we want to help you. :)
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Sammy » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:10 am

Thanks for the link! I will definitely be contacting them :)

Yes, I did see them tied last month. It's been almost seven weeks now, and the female is pretty big. While Templeton is losing his winter coat and slimming back down, Pepper's belly has grown so that it sticks out over her hind legs when she sits down! Very excited and hope we'll get at least two. Another thing that may or may not be related is vomiting... One day, they were both running around in their enclosure when the female paused, threw up, and then resumed playing at a slower pace. Haven't seen it again though, and she's acting as happy and playful as ever. I've read that dogs sometimes have morning sickness, so I'm assuming foxes do the same...?

I've obtained a USDA license already, so we're all set, but thanks for the offer on help. I come to this website first thing if I have any questions and it's been super helpful.

Again, thank you for the info!
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Ash » Tue Mar 24, 2015 6:24 pm

Hmm... I don't know much about that. But congrats on getting USDA licensed. That's awesome, and not something most people are willing to do (even though you have to to be legal). The best person to ask would be Elina, I would think. She has raised a LOT of foxes and probably currently holds the record for "the person with the most foxes" as pets. She's in the UK but has a lot of breeder/broker friends there. She's a moderator, so her name is easy to find under each of the forums.

That being said, she is very busy, so it might be hard or take long a while for her to get back to you. But if you "friend" her on facebook, she's "Flashman Foxes." You might get a quicker response from her that way.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Sammy » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:04 pm

Update: Pepper had her kits today and last I saw, there were two. She might have a third out there right now, but it's dark and we don't want to bother her. She has, after all, moved the first kit from the built-in den box to another we've got in there and we don't want to risk the babies being injured.

They each seem to be rather healthy from what we could tell; both squeal whenever she gets up and their legs were all there and wiggling around :) We've ordered the milk replacer from that website you recommended (thanks Ash!) and I'll probably take them out of mama's care in about a week. So excited to have these new additions! :mrgreen:
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Ash » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:17 pm

Congrats! :) Careful not to stress the mom out too much. Reds aren't nearly as bad about fennecs, but additional stress can make them destroy their litters. So just take a peek on occasion. ;)

I'm assuming you're probably going to be getting silvers, but you could get a cross or a red too if the genes fall right.

Have you found any customers wanting to buy the kits? Dave let's his go at 4-5 weeks of age to ensure proper bonding. So it's important for them to get into their new homes soon.

If it were me, I personally would pull at 2-2.5 weeks. They open their eyes at 3 weeks. So pulling them any earlier would just be additional work for you, and wouldn't be necessary. Most breeders wait two weeks before they pull reds.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Sammy » Mon Mar 30, 2015 6:41 pm

When I went out there this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a little bundle of five squirming babies :) Sadly, a sixth seemed to have been either stillborn or squashed by the mom. It was really small and looked bony, so I think it may have been a runt if it ever lived.

One of these babies is a much lighter color than the rest of them, and it's kind of small. The biggest one is pitch black, probably the darkest one, and another has darker and lighter spots that are just barely noticeable over its body. I think we'll have a couple of color variations when they get older! Can the lightest-colored one be a pearl fox? I'm not sure if one of the parents has to be or not...

I'm kind of worried about the way Pepper just plops down on top of them and picks them up whenever I enter the kennel for feeding. Will going in there once a day with food cause too much stress on her? My biggest concern is that she's going to chew or otherwise injure them, and I'm considering pulling them out of there next weekend just so I can keep an eye on them. Would they not be getting enough nutrients if I'm feeding them fox milk replacer from Fox Valley?

As for the question about whether they've got new owners waiting for them to come of age, yes they do! I've made sure the customers have done their research and understand what it takes to care for a fox, and several of them have been keeping in touch with me. I'm sure it'll be tough letting them go when the time comes, but I know they're going to good homes from what I can tell icon-smile

So many questions and worries which probably come from the excitement of our first litter. :mrgreen:
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Ash » Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:54 pm

The stillborn one that is dead with probably be eaten by the mom. This is a natural thing, and will give her back nutrients and strength. Don't let that turn you off.

The kits will not be showing their true colors until weeks later. Takes a while to be able to distinguish between a cross fox and a red fox. There will be no pearl, unless both parents happen to be carrying the gene. Pearl is recessive--so that's very unlikely. It is probably a cross or red.

Try to avoid stressing her as much as you can. If you feel you need to pull sooner for the sake of the babies, then do so. But also keep in mind this is her first litter, and she does need to "learn" better for next time. If she turns out to be a "bad mommy" you may not wish to breed her again so the foxes that are genetically prone to being bad mommies can be removed. That being said, since it is her first litter, you can be more tolerant of mistakes. She's probably just over-concerned about her babies. So only go out to feed and water when you can. Their pen might get a bit messy, but if it were me, I'd leave her alone since she's moving them around when she sees you (sign of stress).
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Sammy » Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:58 pm

Okay, thanks. I'll leave them in there for as long as needed. I'd like to check on them at least once a day, but my two really only need to be fed every other day since I have two large bucket-type feeders hanging on the fence for them. I'm sure seeing them from my bedroom window will be enough to be sure they're alright.

For a little while, I actually thought that Templeton was stressed or had some sort of skin condition because of a large patch of fur he's missing from his neck. The weird part is that it almost looked like someone shaved little bits off each day; it wasn't completely bald. It didn't occur to me that Pepper was chewing it to make a nest until this afternoon when I noticed soft tufts of fur all around the kits, though I figured she might have been the culprit.
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Ash » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:42 am

lol, That's funny about her using his fur. Also, that's usually where foxes start shedding their winter coats first. So they tend to look pretty goofy and have a big gray patch behind their neck and upper back. So it sounds like she's using his winter coat to fluff up the den box. :)
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Hand-rearing my first litter...?

Postby Sammy » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:16 am

Ahh, that makes sense. I never thought they would have lost patches of fur all at once like that! Haha, I guess I've still got quite a bit to learn :)

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