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Silver Foxes as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: July 16, 2020
Silver Foxes as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

For some, the only silver fox they want to be around is George Clooney. For others, keeping a silver fox as a pet is a dream. Others still don't even know what a silver fox is. While some may think of them as a separate animal, they are actually the same animal as a red fox. The difference is that they are affected by melanism, a condition which turns their characteristic red hair color silver. The reason some foxes have this condition is due to genetic history and they can occur naturally in the wild. However, in the domestic setting, selective breeding has led to a greater demand for silver foxes as pets.

To understand more about silver foxes as pets, AnimalWised shares some advice on their characteristics, care and why this means they are not suitable as pets in the first place.

You may also be interested in: Foxes as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

Can silver foxes be pets?

The main reason why you shouldn't keep silver foxes as pets is because they are not domestic animals. While there are many cases of tame foxes being kept as pets, this does not mean it should be the general rule. Foxes are wild and have not gone through the millennia long domestication process that dogs have gone through. While not as dangerous, the reasons are similar to why we don't keep their canid cousin the wolf as pets.

The reasons why we don't keep silver foxes as pets are the same as those why we don't keep red foxes as pets. Their temperament is not well-suited to the home environment and we explain these reasons further below.

However, the question is can we keep silver foxes as pets and this leads us to another factor: availability. Firstly, there is the question of legality. In the United States of America, it is illegal to keep foxes as pets in most states. While you may be able to have special license if you rehabilitate or keep foxes as display animals, you have to have a specific reason to do so. Simply wanting to keep them as a domestic companion animal is not one of them.

Importantly, it is not legal to breed foxes as pets in most states in America. You will have to check your local laws, but many other countries ban their breeding. There are many reasons for this, often because the fox population in many territories is so high, adding to their number is unhealthy for local ecosystems.

However, the well-being of the individual fox is important, especially with silver foxes. As people want to keep silver foxes as pets, some unscrupulous people are trying to breed them. However, since the reason we have silver foxes is due to a genetic anomaly, these breeders may kill red foxes as they are not the desired color.

Proponents of domestic foxes look to a Russian study carried out in the mid-20th century which tried to breed tameness into the foxes. However, recent evidence shows these attempts to create domestic foxes have not worked[1]. The result is that a lot of animals which should be wild have been keep in poor conditions in captivity.

Foxes are outdoors animals

If you adopt a silver fox as a pet, it is imperative that they live outside. A fox will need a cubicle or something similar to a dog house. They should never be housed inside an apartment or house, unless you want it to be torn down in no time at all.

Above all, foxes will never adapt to living confined in a cage. If you want a silver fox as a pet and you have considered the possibility of having them locked up, if only for a few hours a day, ask yourself this question: Would you cage a dog?

Silver Foxes as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Foxes are outdoors animals

Foxes are smelly

As we said in our article about foxes as pets, these animals emit a pungent odor. They have a gland in their tail that secretes civet musk - a very smelly animal secretion.

This, together with the stench of urine and feces, is one of the reasons why the silver fox have not been considered as pets by humans during the course of history. Why do you think they have not been domesticated like dogs, cats or horses? It's not that they can't be trained, in theory - the problem with foxes is that, beautiful and intelligent as they are, their smell is just too bad to take.

We will talk about how keeping silver foxes as pets is quite the nuisance, just like keeping otters as pets can turn a home upside down, despite their cuteness.

Foxes cannot cohabit with other pets

Although you may find an exception if you adopt a silver fox as a pet at an extremely young age, foxes are incompatible with other pets. They are predatory carnivores, and their hunting instinct is very strong. We all have heard tales of foxes going into chicken coops, killing all the birds and eating only one. Your small dogs, cats, birds and fish will definitely not be safe if you have a silver fox in the premises!

With very large dogs, the dog may be the one to kill the fox, since their smell provokes an aggressive reaction in the dog against the stench of an atavistic enemy.

Silver Foxes as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Foxes cannot cohabit with other pets

Foxes are master escapists

Obviously, the garden where the silver fox lives should be properly fenced. However, this will not guarantee that your fox won't try to escape. Foxes are expert engineers and great jumpers. If they cannot escape by digging or jumping, they swill study and learn your movements to take advantage of your carelessness.

For example, taking out the trash, leaving the gate open, or taking the car out of the garage are all favorable moments for a fleeing silver fox. They will most likely not return, either because of an accident or because they will follow the scent of another wild fox. After all, foxes live very close to human settlements - although we hardly see them.

When adopting a wild animal, such as the silver fox or the fennec fox, in order to offer them your home, care and affection, you must ask yourself whether this adoption is intended to make the animal happy or just yourself.

We hope we have answered any questions about why it is not advisable to have silver foxes as pets and raised a little more awareness of the importance of preserving nature and wildlife. Our video below on why wild animals should stay wild provides even more information:

If you want to read similar articles to Silver Foxes as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

References

1. Lord, K. A., Coppinger, R. P., & Karlsson, E. K. (2019). The History of Farm Foxes Undermines the Animal Domestication Syndrome. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 35(2), 125-136.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31810775/

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