Mystic Garden Exotics

Foxes - Caresheet*

Quick facts

  • Affection - average 
  • Difficulty of care - average
  • Cost of care - moderate
  • Lifespan - 10-15 years
  • Size - 10lbs for arctics, 10-15 for reds
  • Housing - indoors, or outdoor pen with top and bottom
  • Food - dog or puppy food, supplemented with meat
  • Smell - 4 (arctics & reds)


                                 Caring for your Foxes

housing Foxes can be kept indoors just like your dog. They can, however, be destructive. Many chew like puppies and climb like cats which can be a dangerous combination. If kept indoors, make sure your fox is watched very closely. Put breakables away, keep electrical cords out of reach, and consider using child locks or rubberbands on cabinet doors. You might consider a large indoor cage or outdoor pen to keep your fox in when you are unable to watch him or her. Foxes are easiest to housebreak using a litterbox, though some may not housebreak completely. For smaller species of foxes such as fennecs, cat litter boxes will work fine. Larger foxes will require a large dog litter box. You can also use a modified plastic tote or cement pan as a litter box for a cheaper alternative. Use a very thin layer of litter; we like Critter Care or a similar product. You could also use non-clumping cat litter, dog litter, newspaper pellets, or simply line the litter box with old newspaper. Foxes don't bury their waste, so there's no need to use too much litter. When starting litter training, you might try putting several litter boxes throughout the house. Most foxes love being outdoors (though fennecs should be kept primarily indoors). A sufficient outside pen must be constructed of a sturdy wire. Chainlink or welded wire is perfect for most large species of fox such as reds and arctics. Small foxes like grays and swifts can squeeze through chainlink fence as babies and fennecs are too tiny throughout their whole life for chainlink, so smaller openings are required in these instances. A pen of 10'x10' or larger is ideal for most foxes. They can dig very deep very quickly and jump very high, so pens must have a secure top and bottom on them. We personally use dog kennels like you can buy at any hardware store and welded wire on the top and bottom. A cement floor will also work as long as the wire is connected to it securely. Make sure your fox has access to shade and shelter from the weather, but do not be concerned if your fox decides to lay out in the rain or snow. They seem to enjoy it. The only exception is with fennecs. They can get frostbite very easily and should be kept out of cold weather completely. Foxes love to dig and it is a very good idea to have an area for them to do this, whether indoors or out. Try a plastic tote or kiddie pool filled with sand, small animal bedding, or clean dirt (depending on what your fox seems to enjoy digging in). Change this out whenever it becomes soiled.

feeding Feeding your fox is easy. We feed our breeders Blue Buffalo brand and our pets Exclusive brand lamb and rice, supplemented with healthy treats. You can purchase a commercially prepared wild canid food, but this expense is not necessary. Your fox kit will be perfectly healthy started on good quality puppy food (meat should be the first ingredient listed). As he or she gets closer to the age of one year, you can slowly switch to a good quality dog food (again, meat should be the primary ingredient), leave it on puppy or a feed a combination of the two depending on activity level. If your fox starts getting chunky, gradually reduce the amount of puppy food and increase the amount of adult food. Cat or kitten food is also a good addition but I recommend this not exceed 50% of their diet (different breeders/owners have different opinions regarding cat food). Foxes do well with the addition of meat to their diet 2-6 days a week (though not all individuals like meat). Cooked meat is ideal and seems to cut down some on their odor. Some people do use raw meat for their foxes for a more natural diet, but by doing this there is more potential for your foxes getting sick from bad food. Never feed your fox pork products, chocolate, or onions. If in doubt as to whether a food is safe for your pet, don't feed it. That being said, all foxes love treats! Eggs seem to be a consistent favorite with all species I've encountered. I have never seen a fox turn down any kind of egg regardless of how it is prepared (including raw). Larger species such as reds and arctics seem to enjoy meaty treats like fish and chicken. Smaller foxes like grays seem to prefer veggies and fuits, like carrots and blackberries, and bugs, like crickets. Many foxes love marshmallows, cereals, and fruit, but sugary stuff should be fed sparingly. Carrots are good for aiding in foxes' digestion. Often foxes will eliminate in their food and water dishes. You can clean them out regularly or take a proactive approach and make custom dishes. We supply water for our outdoor foxes with lidded buckets with holes cut in them towards the top. That way they can get their head in, but nothing else. You can also build wooden boxes that they can only get their head into to eat and drink, or any other ideas that you can come up with.

breeding This can be rather complicated with some species. Red foxes seem to be the easiest to encourage to mate, needing no more than a pen and a dog house. Other foxes such as swifts and arctics require specially made den boxes before they feel secure enough to mate. Different species go into heat during different times, usually between January and March. Kits are born in spring, depending on the species, usually between March and May. The males should be left with the females after birth and the babies should be removed 9-10 days after birth before their eyes are open and then bottle-fed. They are ready for their new homes when fully weaned, around 4-6 weeks. The most important thing to remember is that foxes mate for life. Do not try studding out a fox or switching mated partners. This is not only cruel, but will also decrease the chance of them mating. There is a lot to raising foxes and this is just very basic information. If you are seriously interested in breeding foxes, try checking our forum to talk with other owners and breeders, or e-mail me directly for help.

behavior/handling The first 6 months of your fox's life are the most important for socialization. Pick up and handle your kit as much as possible, even if just for a few minutes at a time. Get him or her used to a safety/breakaway collar if desired, harness, leash, and grooming (bathing, brushing fur and teeth) as early as possible. A microchip is a great idea. I also like collars with tags for identification purposes and so if the fox ever escapes, people will realize it's a pet and hopefully show compassion towards it (i.e. not shoot it). If you choose to take your fox for walks, a harness is much better than a collar. Our pet foxes have a collar on all the time, except for walks. Then we put on the harness and remove the collar for comfort. We keep also keep an ID and rabies tag on the harness. Please be aware that many dogs have an instinct to attack foxes, so always use caution if walking your fox in public. Never allow your fox off its leash no matter how well-trained! Foxes are not dogs and are likely to run away if scared or inticed by something. If you do not plan to breed your fox, I highly recommend getting him or her neutered or spayed by 6 months of age. Often this will give your fox a healthier life, help cut down on undesirable behavior, and lessen their smell. Your fox will love having toys to play with. Plushies, squeaky toys, baby rattles, and similar things will give your fox something to do besides digging in the couch cushions and stealing your shoes. To teach what is an acceptable thing to play with, you can smear peanut butter on the toys, and give praise for playing with these items. Take away any items your fox is not supposed to have, but never hit your fox.

notes about foxes Before getting a pet fox, make sure you can find a vet willing to treat it! Be sure your kit comes from a reputable breeder. The kit should be bottle-fed from 9-10 days of age and well-socialized. Many states have bans on all foxes, certain species, or require permits. Use caution when having an adult fox in your home with other pets. Foxes are hunters and might eat smaller pets such as birds, rodents, kittens, and small breed puppies. Never leave a fox unattended with pets like these. When vaccinating your fox only use dead or modified live viruses. Some vaccines used for dogs can actually give your fox the virus it's meant to protect against. I only recommend rabies vaccinations but others, such as distemper, may be given so long as the virus is killed or modified. Be aware that in many states, if your fox bites a person for any reason, they may euthanize and test for rabies whether its vaccinations are current or not, so please be careful and watchful if you allow your fox around other people. Keeping the vaccinations current and properly recorded with your vet will give you a better chance to fight for your fox's life if you find yourself in that situation. Please understand that owning a fox, just like any pet, is a responsibility for the rest of that animal's life. If you no longer want your fox, you cannot release it into the wild. It will not survive and you could be prosecuted by state and federal government. Be sure you are ready to dedicate the time and money to your fox before you decide to take it into your home and remember we are always here with advice should you ever need it. If you're new to owning a fox and have more questions, I once again encourage you to visit our forum. If you can't find the answer you're looking for from the members or need immediate assistance, I am more than happy to answer your questions through e-mail.

 * I am not a vet. This care sheet is based upon my experiences as a pet owner and breeder, as well as experiences from other owners/breeders. You may print this for your own personal use, but do not sell, redistribute, or remove copyright information.                 © Layla Reid, Mystic Garden Exotics