Do Red Foxes Make Good Pets? (Great but Difficult)

Foxes are beautiful exotic animals, and they can make great pets. Each fox has individuality and some have a charismatic character. You may be considering a fox as a pet, and we don’t blame you, I mean look at those ears!

Before you purchase a fox for a pet, it’s important to consider the responsibilities that owning an exotic pet comes with and the legality of exotic animals in your district, state, and country.

Should I Get a Pet Fox?

A pet fox is a beautiful exotic animal that can gain trust and build a strong bond with its owner and family. They typically enjoy an outdoor enclosure to expend their immense energy. However, it’s possible to keep a fox indoors if you’re willing to work with them. 

Before you purchase any pet, it’s important to know what kind of commitments you’re going to have to make. It’s even more important to consider the responsibilities that come with owning a red fox. 

Why Should I Get a Pet Fox?

Personality

Foxes are very playful and outgoing; they have a lot of personality in their little bodies. 

A cute fact about foxes is if they take (steal) something of yours (keys, sock, shoe) you can barter with them to get it back. To do this, you can trade something like a toy or a treat. This could help build a bond with them. 

If you try to take something they’re interested in before they’re ready, they can have an attitude or temper. Each individual fox is going to have its own character and temperament. 

Intelligence

Foxes make a lot of noises: they can chuckle, giggle, bark, growl, howl, and more. They are very intelligent animals and they may try to communicate with you through noise or touch.

Foxes are also great escape artists, so it’s important to have an enclosure that will keep them (and others) safe.

Are Red Foxes Considered Exotic Pets?

Foxes are wild canines that are considered exotic pets in several states. In fact, many states in America have outlawed owning these non-domestic animals as pets. In fact, there are several states in the United States where it is illegal or restricted to keep red foxes as a pet.

There are also many states with restrictions on owning red foxes. Such as the number you may have, the type of environment they live in, and a license for owning an exotic canine like the red fox.

Are Foxes Legal to Keep as Pets in My State?

Foxes are legal in some states, but they’re illegal in others. It’s imperative that you research your district before getting a fox.

Sometimes you can own foxes without a permit, while other states may require a permit or other paperwork to obtain or own a fox. 

The good news is that some fox species are legal with permits in select places! You can find specifics for all 50 states here, but here is a list of states you can own a fox, with and without a permit:

  • Arizona, with a permit
  • Delaware, with a permit
  • Florida, with a permit, depending
  • Idaho, with a permit
  • Indiana, with a permit
  • Maine, with a permit
  • Mississippi, with a permit
  • Missouri, with a permit
  • Montana, with appropriate paperwork, depending
  • North Carolina, with appropriate paperwork, depending
  • North Dakota, with a permit
  • Oklahoma, with a permit
  • Pennsylvania, with a permit
  • Rhode Island, with a permit and appropriate paperwork, depending
  • South Dakota, with a permit
  • Texas, with a permit
  • Wisconsin, with appropriate paperwork, depending

States may require a permit to cross state lines, a permit to own, a health statement, or permission from local authorities. Check your state laws to see if you can legally own a fox where you reside before purchasing. 

Do I Need a Permit for A Pet Fox?

You can search online to find local regulations and requirements. If you have to have a permit to own a fox, your local government agency should be able to direct you to the correct information and/or application.

It’s important to note that if you have to travel to buy a fox, you should call the state or states you will have to drive through to get permission to bring a fox through state lines. Permits may be required to travel with an exotic animal.

Certificate of Health

Some states may also require a certification of health before allowing the animal across state lines.

This certification is usually obtained by a vet to state the well-being of the animal. This certification is required in order to protect the health of the public from disease or sickness (like rabies). 

Where Can I Buy or Adopt a Red Fox as A Pet?

If you’re considering purchasing a red fox, there are breeders and adoption services across the United States for exotic animals.

Do research on your district area, state, or country to make sure they are legal. Sometimes you need paper documentation.

Are Foxes Difficult to Take Care Of?

Foxes are full of energy, so it’s important that you’re patient with this beautiful and exotic animal. Foxes are very hyper, need a lot of room to run around and toys to play with.

Foxes really enjoy chewing on things, so if you don’t want them to tear up furniture or your other belongings, it would be wise to provide lots of toys or entertainment for them.

Foxes can be very loyal, loving, and playful creatures. They may not be cuddlers, but they may build a strong bond with their owner. It’s common for foxes to bond with one single individual. 

There are some downfalls to owning a pet fox. Some of those downfalls include but are not limited to:

  • Odor
  • Special Dietary Needs
  • May not be sociable with others (animals or people)

Here is a graphic with more details on some of the negative aspects of owning a fox.

Are Baby Foxes Difficult to Take Care Of?

If you get a baby fox (a kit) you should start working with them the first day you get them home, ideally before they’re 6 weeks old.

Kits should preferably be bottle-fed to introduce them to human interaction from a young age. It’s important to handle a kit often and litter box train them so they’re familiar with you and they know their boundaries. 

Do Red Red Foxes Get Along With Other Household Pets Like Cats And Dogs?

Foxes are highly territorial, which typically causes them to not get along with household pets.

They may get aggressive towards household pets like cats or small dogs. Similarly, large dogs often attack foxes -whether they mean to or not.

There are also a lot of cases of foxes and household pets getting along fine, however. But getting your different animals to “Play nice” just might be a little more difficult with a fox!

Can You Tame A Red Fox? (Or A Wild Fox?)

You may tame red foxes to form bonds with humans enough to recognize you and obey your commands. It is relatively easy for red foxes to create bonds with humans. They are a type of canine that thrives on making connections with humans.

A fox attached to its owner will follow them around, show them attention, and act similar to dogs. A tame red fox will let you pet them and may even show their affection by cuddling up next to you.

Please note, however, that red foxes in the wild may carry dangerous and contagious diseases. If you or your pet get scratched or bitten by a wild fox, it’s important that you immediately seek medical attention.

And while you might be able to become friends with a wild fox and have it come near you, turning it into a pet is something completely different. Please don’t try to convince a red fox to come live with you. It’ll be cruel to the fox and it won’t work.

What Do I Need To Know To Take Care Of A Pet Red Fox?

Taking care of a pet fox is a lot different than taking care of a dog, so you should be prepared to feed your fox some fresh protein, train them accordingly, and always treat them right.

Foxes are high-energy animals that will spend a lot of time just running around! They’re also known for marking their territories with urine and feces, and if you let your fox indoor, it won’t hesitate to do this in your house.

It is very difficult to properly potty-train a red fox to use a littler-box, and not everyone succeeds, which is why many opt for keeping their pet fox in an outside enclosure.

Feeding A Pet Red Fox

The red fox and foxes, in general, are very different than dogs. However, they have a similar diet to dogs. Fox owners may feed their fox pet high-protein dog food as a main source of substance.

Foxes are generally meat-eaters. The majority of individuals feed either high-quality, grain-free kibbles like Blue Buffalo or Taste of the Wild (both links to amazon) or raw meat pieces like chicken liver. Taurine is a critical amino acid for foxes, just like it is for cats. Therefore, unless you are raw feeding, you will need to supplement your fox’s diet with taurine to keep it healthy.

In addition, the occasional raw or cooked protein (meat) is also great for nutrition. This boosts growth and gives them the nutritional value they receive in the wild. Giving foxes berries and insects are also great. They are natural foragers who enjoy eating vegetation too.

Housetraining A Pet Fox

Foxes need to be housetrained and let outside the use the restroom. They like to mark their territory by urinating and even defecating. Therefore, you should let them roam in a yard while using the restroom.

Generally, the red fox prefers to use the latrine in the same spot each time as a way to claim their territory. In the beginning, they’ll want to do this everywhere around your house, but with some concentrated effort, you can teach your fox to go in the litter box.

Foxes won’t always tell you when they need to go, however, and in many cases, they’d like to mark their territories where they live. This is why you should put in a lot of effort in housetraining your pet fox in the beginning.

Red foxes are more difficult to train to use a litter-box or to housetrain than dogs or cats, but it is possible.

To train your red fox to use a litter box, set up the litter box in a quiet place in a low-traffic area. Find a few blades of grass, an item, or something else that has your pet’s scent on it and place it in the litter box.

Lead your red fox to the litter box and allow them to smell their scent in the box. You may need to repeat the process, but eventually, they will begin using the litter box within a few days. 

Pet Foxes Are Wild Animals 

No matter how young you begin taming your wild fox, pet foxes are still mostly wild animals. These wild animals have a natural tendency to bite or attack when they feel scared.

They are also opportunistic hunters, which means they hunt when given a chance. The red fox does not make a good pet because it may be dangerous when tempted to hunt.

What Kind of Equipment Do I Need for My Pet Fox? 

When you’re ready to consider getting any kind of pet, it’s ideal to have all the materials and items you need before you get them. Here’s a non-exclusive list of items to consider getting for your pet fox:

  • Food bowl
  • Food (live & fresh meat among other dietary needs)
  • Water bowl
  • Toys & entertainment
  • Litter box (if using)
    • Wood chips or wood pellets (kitty litter is toxic to foxes!
  • Large space
  • Kennel or small enclosed space (a safe and secure place)
  • A cat tree or shelves for them to climb up (they like high places) or a dog house or crate (some species would have dens in the wild, the point is to provide comfort)
  • Outside they need a 12×12 enclosure that’s fenced all around (bottom, top, all 4 sides) 
    • Foxes like to dig, so they may dig under the kennel unless there’s a bottom

Can Red Foxes Use Cat Flaps and Doggy Doors?

Red foxes can use a doggy door or cat flap to enter or exit your home. If you would like to own a fox who can explore the outdoors, you may install a door that lets them explore the indoors and outdoors at their own will.

A doggy door is good for potty training. As you teach your red fox how to use the bathroom, they will become used to going through the doggy door and will eventually use it themselves.

How Much Money Do I Need for A Pet Fox?

Materials and Equipment

Equipment and materials for an outside enclosure can run anywhere between $700-$2500.

The basics for an outside enclosure is a 12×12 lot, preferably a chain link kennel (including the top, bottom, and sides). The enclosure will need some cover to protect them from the environment and weather.

The materials you need for an indoor pet fox could range from $80-$300. Those materials would include a house or crate, toys and/or entertainment, food and water bowls, a litter box and litter, and you may want to consider purchasing something for your fox to climb. 

Buying A Fox

The breed of fox will directly influence the cost of the animal. The breeder’s reputation and skill will also affect the price tag. For example, a domesticated red fox from Russia can cost upwards of $8,000. A backyard breeder could sell a fox for $200. 

“Backyard” breeders will often offer a lower price. The lower cost may reflect lower quality pets. The fox kits are likely not to have immunizations and they certainly won’t be domestic. While a fox may be considered tame as long as it isn’t aggressive or attacking people, a tame fox is not a domestic fox. 

Domestic foxes would have to be bred specifically for many generations to result in a domesticated animal. Russia is one of the only places in the world that have truly domesticated a fox. It’s important to consider paying extra for a genetically bred, domestic fox from a reputable and trustworthy breeder. 

Recurring Costs

When considering purchasing a pet, it’s important to consider your budget and the recurring costs of owning an animal. Shelter (if outdoors)

  • Heating/Cooling (if they’re not going to be an indoor pet)
    • Arctic foxes can easily overheat in summer heat due to their colder, freezing origins
  • Water
  • Food
  • Toys/Entertainment
  • Bedding/Nesting
  • Litter (if using)

Other Costs to Consider

  • Permits
  • Special licenses
  • Vet Bills
    • Checkups
    • Immunizations
    • Emergencies

How Often Does a Fox Need to See the Vet?

If you get them as a baby (a fox kit) you would ideally take them to a vet every 3 months for the first year of their life. As they get older, you would want to take them every 6 months for regular checkups. 

Foxes live 3-5 years on average. It’s important to take them to a vet more often when they’re under a year old, and once they get older. 

How Much Are Vet Bills for A Pet Fox?

Foxes will usually need to see a specialist because they’re considered wild animals. A regular vet may turn your fox away and refer you to a specialist. A specialist is going to have higher rates than a regular vet. 

It depends on your location, but here are general prices for vet visits:

  • Shots and immunizations can run anywhere between $50-$150.
  • A regular check-up can run anywhere between $80-$100 per visit.
  • In the case of an emergency and they need surgery that can be pricey, ranging wildly from $500 and upwards.

When you purchase a pet, it would be a good idea to consider getting insurance for your pet. This way, you aren’t fully responsible for an emergency service like surgery. It would also be a good idea to get insurance to protect yourself and your pet in regards to legal matters.

Do Pet Red Foxes Live Longer Than Wild Red Foxes?

Pet foxes typically live longer than wild foxes if they are properly cared for by feeding them the right diet, taking them to the vet, and providing them plenty of space in and out of the elements.

Even though pet foxes live longer than wild foxes, they still require adequate care. Red foxes should attend an exotic vet as often as regular dogs if you want to keep them healthy. Since traveling with a red fox can be dangerous, you should contact a home vet.

The difficulty of taking your red fox to the vet is another reason why red foxes do not make good pets. If there is an emergency for your pet, it can be extremely difficult to find your pet help.

What Other Kinds Of Foxes Can Be Pets?

Nearly any type of fox can be a pet if you try taming them. Like red foxes, no other fox has been domesticated in the United States. You can tame many fox species as pets, such as silver or gray foxes, the fennec, bat-eared fox, and many more.

These foxes have similar needs and requirements as the red fox, such as eating dog food, space requirements, and a general need for freedom.

Fennec Foxes

Common pet foxes are the large-eared fennec fox. They’re usually sold by private breeders in the United States. Here are some of their characteristics:

  • Nocturnal
  • Omnivores
  • Skittish, timid
  • Can be temperamental
  • Social
  • Character/personality may change with age
  • Loving, but not cuddly
  • Small breed

Arctic Foxes

  • More aggressive
  • More likely to bite as a kit
  • Can overheat in the summer heat

Red Foxes

  • More laid-back, but still high energy
  • Dog-like
  • Larger breed of fox

Other Fox Breeds

All foxes will have similar characteristics and requirements. Here is a brief list of similarities between breeds:

  • High energy
  • Special dietary needs
  • Most likely tame, not domestic
  • Odor-most foxes smell to some degree, some breeds more than others