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Can You Have a Pet Fox? (5 Reasons Why It’s a Bad Idea)

Foxes are not suitable pets for ordinary owners for many reasons. They need a lot of space, have high energy levels, smell, and shed a lot. There are not many vets for foxes as few specialize in exotic pets. Large foxes also need a lot of space.

For many people, owning a fish, parrot, cat, or dog is not enough. They need a challenge or something exotic. And keeping a pet fox serves that very need.

But before buying a pet fox, there are some things to figure out.

You must first check if it is legal to keep foxes where you live. Many countries ban them as pets.

While foxes are somewhat like dogs, there are many differences. They are nocturnal, more energetic, and have more specific needs.

In this article, you will learn whether it’s illegal to keep pet foxes where you live. You will also learn about the costs associated, and what species function best as pets.

Can You Have a Fox as a Pet?

You can have a fox as a pet if it’s legal in your country or state. Foxes are legal pets in 13 states in the US, select states in Canada, and 15 countries in Europe. Before buying one, know that they generally don’t make for good pets.

Foxes are not great pets. They are difficult to own as they have certain special needs that have to be met.

Only one species of fox is domesticated: the Russian red fox. The rest of the fox species are only tamed. As a result, most foxes don’t do so well as pets.

The following should also be taken into account:

  • Temperament and behavior: Foxes can be destructive, so prepare to see your house destroyed or fox-proof it.
  • They are nocturnal and noisy animals: If you have to go to work every morning, then a fox is not for you.
  • Diet: although they are omnivorous animals, their diet is mainly based on meat, so you must offer them protein-rich meals with taurine.
Can You Have a Fox as a Pet

Is It Legal to Have a Fox as a Pet?

Pet foxes are illegal in most places, but they are legal in 15 US states and 15 European countries. Even in the places where pet foxes are legal, there are typically some restrictions you need to follow.

Pet Foxes in The United States

Pet foxes are allowed in 15 states in the US. Some states require a permit, while others have restricted the ownership of pet foxes to specific species.[1]

StateLegal fox speciesPermit needed
ArkansasAll species.No permit is required.Red and gray imported foxes are not permitted.
FloridaAll species.Permit required.
IndianaAll species.Permit required.
KentuckyAll species.No permit is required.
MichiganOnly bred species, not wild.Permit required.
MissouriMost species.Permit for native species is required.
NebraskaSome species.Permit for native species is required.
New YorkFennec fox.No permit required.
North CarolinaMost species.No permit is required, but a vet certificate.
North DakotaAll species.Permit for native species is required.
OhioAll species.Permit required.
OklahomaAll species, except Fennec fox.Permit required.
South DakotaAll species.Permit required.
TennesseeAll species.Permit for native species is required.Native red and grey foxes are allowed without a permit but must be purchased from licensed facilities.
UtahAll species.Permit required, except red foxes.
WyomingRed, grey, and swift foxes.Permit required, except red foxes.

Pet Foxes in the Rest of the World

In Canada, it is legal to own a fox in the following regions:[2]

  • British Columbia
  • Ontario
  • New Brunswick
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Northwest Territories
  • Yukon Territories
  • Quebec

In Europe, it is legal to own a fox in the following countries:

  • Romania
  • Lithuania
  • Hungary
  • The United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Turkey
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Austria
  • The Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Spain
  • Switzerland (Fennec foxes only)

In Korea and Japan it is legal to own the following species of foxes:

  • Fennec foxes
  • Red foxes
  • Arctic foxes
  • Pale foxes
  • Other non-threatened species

Other places:

  • In South Africa, Ethiopia, and Djibouti it is legal to own all non-threatened fox species.
  • In Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and Israel it is not legal to keep foxes as pets.

Do Foxes Make Good Pets?

Foxes do not make good pets as they are wild animals. They have not been domesticated and don’t have the same natural companionship mentality as dogs. Pet foxes also become destructive when they are bored. 

Foxes need attention, and they need to spend their energy.

If they don’t have enough space to run and explore, foxes act out. They will destroy things, dig holes in the garden, chew electrical cables, and steal and hide small household items.

There are many other reasons why foxes make bad pets:

  • Foxes are wild animals.
  • They can’t be trained like dogs.
  • They are very energetic.
  • They are difficult to house.
  • They have a natural hunting instinct that makes it difficult to control them.
Do Foxes Make Good Pets

Pet Fox Temperament and Behavior

Domesticated foxes (Russian red foxes) are easier to handle than tame foxes. As a result of domestication, they have developed several genetic traits that make them better suited as pets:

  • They have lower energy levels.
  • They are less agitated in captivity.
  • They are rarely aggressive.
  • They are friendlier.

But, most foxes kept as pets are tamed, meaning they are wild animals that accept the presence of humans.

Regardless of whether you get a domestic or tame wild fox, they are athletic, energetic, and agile.

Red foxes can jump over six feet high (~1.8 meters) and can run up to 30 miles per hour. They like to play, swim and dig, all of which you have to accommodate.

They need a lot of playtime and a complex, dynamic, and stimulating environment. In other words, their environment needs to somehow mimic their natural habitat.

They also need attention. If you don’t spend enough time with your pet fox, it gets bored and develops destructive behavior. 

The destructive behavior is manifested in the following ways:

  • Digging holes.
  • Destroying carpets and furniture.
  • Chewing household items.
  • Marking your house and yard with urine.

While they are challenging, pet foxes do get along with children and other pets. Especially if they grew up together.

Can Foxes Be Trained?

Foxes can be trained, but not in the same way as dogs. They can learn to follow simple commands in response to treats, but they won’t be able to perform elaborate tricks.

If you want a trainable pet, get a dog.

Can Foxes Be Trained

Housing Pet Foxes

Foxes need space to roam to burn off excess energy and not get bored. That means you either need an enormous yard or live on a farm with plenty of land.

The yard must have a fence of at least two meters (~7 feet) to ensure your fox can’t escape.

If you keep your pet fox outside, you also need to build an enclosure with a roof to protect it from bad weather. The pen also needs an interior and exterior area where your fox can sleep and spend time.

If you keep your fox indoors, it must have a cage where it can sleep. You should also hide small objects as foxes are known to steal and hide things. Electrical cables should also be kept out of the way of foxes as they chew on them.

Pet Fox Diet

Foxes are omnivores, which means they need animal protein, fruits, vegetables, and plants. Besides vegetables and meat, pet foxes also need minerals and vitamins from fruit for a balanced diet.[4]

While they prefer to eat live or dead prey, you can feed a pet fox with canned dog food.

Large pet foxes can eat hares, small rabbits, and other small animals. This includes the red fox and other similar-sized species. 

Small pet foxes need smaller prey, such as mice, rats, and other small rodents. These are foxes such as the Fennec fox.

Foxes are also fond of chicken. When they get to eat raw meat, give them the whole animal. They benefit from eating all parts of the animal.

Pet Fox Diet

Insects are also a good source of protein for foxes, including the following:

  • Mealworms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Bugs

As for vegetables and fruits, these must also be part of your pet fox’s diet, but not in large quantities:

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Plums
  • Cherries

Do not give the fox cereal and avoid the following toxic foods:

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Tomatoes
  • Pepper
  • Eggplants
  • Green potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts

How to Get a Pet Fox

There are three ways to get a pet fox: you can catch it yourself, adopt it from a rescue center, or buy it from breeders, pet shops, or fur farms.

Before buying a pet fox, make sure you’re aware of the regulations and laws in your area.

Follow these steps if you want to acquire a pet fox:[5]

  • Search online for fox breeders.
  • Call pet shops and adoption centers.
  • Ask other fox owners.
  • Search at fur farms.

It is recommended to spend some time with the fox before buying it to see how you get along. This allows you to notice possible red flags, such as personality or health issues, before buying it.

How Much Is a Pet Fox?

The price of a pet fox varies depending on the species. 

Fox speciesPrice
Pet red fox~$400
Domesticated red fox~$9000
Pet Fennec fox~$3000
Pet Arctic fox~$400

You also have to set aside some money for additional costs for housing, feeding, and cleaning.

Pet Fox Breeds

There are several fox species you can keep as pets. Some are better companions than others. The most popular pet fox is the Fennec fox, followed by the red fox.

Among the most popular fox species that have been kept as pets over time are:[6]

  • Fennec fox
  • Red fox
  • Silver Fox (Domesticated)
  • Arctic Fox
  • Gray Fox
  • Bat-eared Fox
  • Kit fox
  • Swift fox
  • Corsac fox
  • Pale fox

Pet Fennec Fox

Fennec Fox

Fennec foxes behave like dogs, but since they are not domesticated, they need thorough socialization. You also need to take precautions to prevent them from escaping if you are keeping them as pets.

These foxes are sociable animals that purr when content. They are also active, fast, and agile. 

Fennec foxes adapt to the owner’s schedule, even if they are nocturnal in the wild.

Some people believe that they are affectionate, clean, and trainable. Others disagree. Some foxes can be trained to use the litter box. You should use covered litter boxes as foxes like to dig.

Fennec foxes are generally not afraid of strangers and are friendly to everyone. They may not function well with other pets as Fennec foxes will want to play with them all day.

Pet Red Fox

red fox claws

Red foxes are not as popular as Fennecs, but those who own them compare them to cats. The biggest disadvantage of this species is that they can smell bad. This characteristic smell can be reduced by neutering or spaying them.

Red foxes need more space than fennec foxes because they are bigger. It is recommended to keep this species on properties with gardens because they like to dig.

Pet Arctic Fox

Pet Arctic Fox

The arctic fox resembles the red fox, but it is smaller and another color. These animals are sensitive to high temperatures and overheat easily, so you need a way to keep them cool.

Like red foxes, this species can smell bad because of the glands and urine with which it marks its territory.

They enjoy digging and are known for the fact that they like to play in the litter box.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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