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tail wagging and snapping

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Aeroz
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tail wagging and snapping

Postby Aeroz » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:30 am

I need some answers for body language. She is a red fox, 6 months old.

She was being a bad girl and was digging at some padding. I told her she was bad and picked her up. Moving her off it, she bit me abit, not enough to hurt so I didn't mind it. She often does that when I take things from her. Then I got a paper towel to clean up the pee she made when I moved her. This was when she made a sudden turn. She grabbed the paper towel and started snapping at me, harder this time. Still not enough to damage me but it stung.

The odd thing was when I got near her again she was laying down with her tail wagging. Sometimes she'd do another quick lunge and go to bite (often stopping short) then get right back down on her belly tail wagging. She wasn't shrieking like she normally does when upset and I thought a low posture and wagging tail were signs of being pleased and playful. But she was biting far harder than I'd expect her to when playing.

[edit] was worse then I thought. She camped out on my bed and would run up to snap at me if I went up to her. I didn't know what else to do so I put her in the cage we use when we transport her. I hate to do it, its not all that big and I can hear her trying to claw out of it but I can't risk he going after me or someone else while we are trying to sleep
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby TamanduaGirl » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:43 am

As mentioned in the past you have to expect she will be aggressive since you can't do an outside enclosure for her. Also what is the diet like now? Improvements in that can potentially help some. It wont negate the aggression caused by not having an enclosure but it will stop the issue being compounded by having multiple causes for the aggression.
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby Ash » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:28 am

A wagging tail means multiple things, as do lowered ears. With time you'll be able to know exactly what she's feeling, but based on what you've described, she sounds angry and possessive. I'll give a better response tomorrow. My computer is about to die on me, and my power cord is gone.

Will get back to you!
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby pat » Thu Oct 08, 2015 6:26 am

Aeroz wrote:
She was being a bad girl and was digging at some padding. I told her she was bad and picked her up. Moving her off it, she bit me abit, not enough to hurt so I didn't mind it. She often does that when I take things from her. Then I got a paper towel to clean up the pee she made when I moved her. This was when she made a sudden turn. She grabbed the paper towel and started snapping at me, harder this time. Still not enough to damage me but it stung.

The odd thing was when I got near her again she was laying down with her tail wagging. Sometimes she'd do another quick lunge and go to bite (often stopping short) then get right back down on her belly tail wagging. She wasn't shrieking like she normally does when upset and I thought a low posture and wagging tail were signs of being pleased and playful. But she was biting far harder than I'd expect her to when playing.

[edit] was worse then I thought. She camped out on my bed and would run up to snap at me if I went up to her. I didn't know what else to do so I put her in the cage we use when we transport her. I hate to do it, its not all that big and I can hear her trying to claw out of it but I can't risk he going after me or someone else while we are trying to sleep]


First of all, the last thing you want to do is pick her up and then tell her she was bad. She is not going to understand that.
By nature, foxes will dig. she needs to learn one word at a time. You only confused her and she did not understand
what you wanted. For corrections, she needs to learn one word and that word is "NO". Rather than pick her up when doing something she is not suppose to, tell her "NO" then use something else to take her attention away

Foxes are possessive animals. when she has something that she is not suppose to have, tell her "NO" then give her something she is allowed to have. Once she learns the word "NO", then you can lightly tap her on the nose lightly.
if you do that now, she will not understand.

The tail wagging does not mean the same as a dogs taill wagging. sometimes, it could be a sign of an attack.

You mentioned a cage. how often is she kept in that? As TG mentioned, she will need an outdoor enclosure.

Keep in mind, Foxes disposition changes as they grow out of the kit stage.

If you have her in the house, it is a must to remove everything you don't want her to have. They are thieves :lol:
They love leather, but, will still steal other items.

Do you have dogs? Some dogs help to keep a fox busy. Foxes need lots of enrichment. A nice size pen will be of help with lots of things to do there. You don't have to keep her in there 24/7. However, I will tell you now, if you have carpets.
Plan on removing them. Foxes mark and will do it so quick. Keeping a fox in the house 24/7 will stink up your house in time.

Ash will chime in when she gets a chance, and can also give you more ideas.
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Aeroz
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby Aeroz » Thu Oct 08, 2015 10:19 am

I have been supplimenting her diet with some chicken livers. Actually she's been very good recently. Very playful and less food aggressive. Which is partly why this came as such a shock. This morning she is fine. Back to her usual self.

Somewhat off topic, there was also talk of getting her fixed in the hopes it will help with the peeing issue.
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby Whisper » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:50 pm

Just a thought, zorr goes crazy over paper towels and plastic bags cause i have given him treats in them. He will get aggresive if i try to take one away. Another big part of keeping him from being aggresive is enrichment, zorr gets really destructive if he doesn't have a toy. He loves bones and i got him a kong toy that he now loves.
Zorr has only wagged his tail when exited, and lowers ears when agitated/angry
I haven't heard of fixing them improving their marking, but im not sure
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby pat » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:17 pm

Somewhat off topic, there was also talk of getting her fixed in the hopes it will help with the peeing issue.

it will never stop the marking. some foxes might mark a little less, maybe even smell a little less, thats about it.
but, no guarantee.
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby Aeroz » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:41 am

Tonight she was bad, really bad. She started chasing me away. I found her waiting around corners when I tried to go back into the room. Eventually I had to force her into a cage. I'm getting worried, partly because she's too smart. So my less aggressive tricks like luring her to the cage isn't working anymore.
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby pat » Mon Oct 19, 2015 6:35 am

It is hard for me to suggest much without knowing more of how she was and is handled.

keep in mind, when they are very young, they have no fear. once they reach around 3-5 months, they develop
fear. that is why is it very important to work with them at a young age. however, this still is no guarantee
once a fox reaches the fear stage.

another issue could be due to breeding season approaching soon. but honestly, I don't think that is reason.

do you hand feed her? if so, sit down or lay down with a treat in your hand. it will take time for her to trust you,
but, she might come around.

forcing her in a cage could bring aggression out. she needs an outdoor enclosure with hiding places.
it sounds like she don't want to be in her cage.

a dog to play with might help a little. but, she needs to learn to be friendly with you.

dont' know if this will help any, but, here is a basic care sheet for foxes, (I still need to update it)
http://sybilsden.com/caresheet/fox.htm

the other fox owners here, can give you some ideas.
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Aeroz
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby Aeroz » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:46 am

Well we do have a dog she plays with all the time and normally she is good. The same day when I came home she ran up to me and rolled over to get her belly rubbed. While its not too unusual for her to get possessive with something she likes she's grown more possessive.

But when it came time to let her back out she was her usual hyper self. So she seems to be fine with just some time I'm just worried about when she suddenly gets territorial.

I'd try hand feeding her but when she gets like that she by-passes the treat and goes for the hand holding it.
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby pat » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:03 pm

most foxes are possessive and thieves.
you can try to distract her with something else.

for the hand biting with a treat, what type of treat do you give her? are you sitting or laying down when you hand it to her?
if she goes to bite your hand, can you have something in your other hand to distract her? if need be, start out with a welding glove.

also, does she know what "NO" means? I know foxes can be pretty quick, but, can you yell NO to her when she goes to bite your hand? if she attempts to bite, don't give her the treat. in time she should get the connection. you could tell her "no bite"
this might help her distinguish the different words and the meaning.

on another note, it sounds like she can be lovable too.(well, for a fox anyway)

most likely, she will outgrow this, but, you should be trying to correct her and have to be consistent. as I mentioned, an outdoor enclosure should help. most foxes like to be outdoors.
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby TamanduaGirl » Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:09 pm

Is there a spare room you could clear out or maybe room in the garage to make an enclosure for her? You've used the crate for punishment and that, along with it being a crate and not a big enclosure, makes it a terrible place for her to be. Wouldn't you fight/bite someone trying to lock you up somewhere you hate?

She needs a nice big outside enclosure. Since you wont or can't do that then if you could build a nice large enclosure in the garage that would be second choice. If that's not an option(not everyone has a garage), converting a spare room into a fox room would help, just not as much. The fox really needs it's own space. A nice large space it enjoys, where it can be a fox without being punished for it.
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Re: tail wagging and snapping

Postby Ash » Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:47 am

Hi, Aeroz. From what you've described, it sounds like she has a cage she goes in when you're away or when she's being unmanageable.

Very few foxes will take well to this type of living situation--it's very uncommon. But your fox is a typical fox and she will not do well being caged for long periods of time. This will only help bring out her aggression. It is of the utmost importance that she has her own space that is not this cage. As TamanduaGirl said, she needs a place where she "can be a fox without being punished for it."

If a fox's needs are not met appropriately, it will only get worse as time goes on--not better. She won't "get used to it" or "learn not to be a fox." She absolutely NEEDS her own space to call her own.

She should have an enclosure or room that is at least 10x10x6 ft (keep in mind she may be the kind of fox that needs more than this). While an outdoor enclosure certainly is best, if it is not an option, then a garage enclosure will work well too. It will be a lot more work having any type of indoor or semi-outdoor enclosure like a garage, but it may be what she needs.

She needs to gnaw things, destroy stuff, pee on what she wants to, scream and jump anywhere she wants. She will be able to do these things in her enclosure, and it will make her happy.

You can find an enclosure/kennel at Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, and other similar stores. You can even find them cheaper used on craigslist. Put some furnishings in there and her toys. That will be a wonderful start.

There is no reason you should not be able to provide this for her--especially if you are going to keep her in the garage. If money is the issue, then this needs to be your next priority, and you have to budget so that you will be able to buy this for her as soon as possible.

Honestly, it makes me sad hearing about your experience... Foxes are very fun animals, and I feel like by not having a suitable place for her to stay, you are really missing out on your experience owning one... Instead of doing fun things with your fox and really cherishing these moments in her first year, you are stuck dealing with aggression. If you had been prepared prior to bringing her home, you and your fox would be much happier.

I really hope things work out. I want to see you be able to have a pet-quality fox. I want you to enjoy the privilege of owning one. I want both you and your fox to be happy, and I don't think that will be the case unless you start to implement some changes.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas

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