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Pet Fox

Vulpes vulpes domesticus.
  (+20, -4)(+20, -4)
(+20, -4)
  [vote for,

The average red fox must lead a pretty miserable existence. In the countryside it lives by killing farm animals, and as a result of this behaviour it gets hunted for sport. In the town, the fox ekes out a living by raiding bins for scraps, creating an unhygenic mess and often spreading disease and infestation to household pets.
The solution is simple - foxes should be domesticated! Thousands of years ago, there was no such thing as a pet dog - someone had to tame a wild WOLF cub. A fox is a type of dog - but nowhere near as ferocious as a wolf! Foxes are beautiful creatures, most people that aren't farmers appreciate foxes... some even leave out food for them in their backyards! But that isn't enough... what if the fox becomes ill? It's difficult to take a wild fox to the vet, and a sick wild animal is a danger to your own pets and children.
Baby foxes should be kidnapped from their parents and brought up in captivity, and their wildness bred out. A fox could then become a pet, not like a dog, but more like a cat; something that would hang around the house all day, but could be let out at night. Sure, it would take maybe a hundred years before they became fully domesticated, but wouldn't it be worth it for the sake of both our species?
macm, Mar 09 2001

Evolution and Domestication: Selection on Developmental Genes? http://www.devbio.c...ap22/link2208.shtml
Excellent overview, with a link to the American Scientist abstract. [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Early Canid Domestication: the Farm Fox Experiment http://home.wlu.edu...kmerh/jsk/canid.htm
Another good overview. [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Jonson: the Fox http://www.shakespearedc.org/voljon.html
Bio of Ben Jonson, mentioning his pet fox. [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Selection vector and variability patterns under experimental conditions of animal domestication http://www.bionet.n...CIG/animal/3_1.html
Scientific bibliography on this topic. [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Middleburg Tack http://www.middleburgtack.com
For all your hunting needs.... [Susen, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

The Old Habit http://www.oldhabit.com
More hunting clothes and accessories....because how you look is important [Susen, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Problems with keeping foxes as pets http://www.foxes.org/urbanfox/part3.html
Scroll down to "Foxes as pets." [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Encyclopaedia Britannica - Canine http://www.britanni...00.html?query=canid
also called CANID, any member of the family Canidae (order Carnivora), which includes about 14 living genera of dogs and doglike mammals (wolves, foxes, and jackals). [macm]

Urban hare coursing... http://www.hashhouseharriers.com/
Apply to be a hare now!!! [macm, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Urban hare coursing... http://www.hashhouseharriers.com/
Apply to be a hare now!!! [DrBob, Mar 09 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Rebecca Hoskins fox http://www.britishbigcats.org/rebecca.jpg
[skinflaps, Mar 24 2005]


       Just look at how many breeds of dogs there are.   

       Imagine how many types of foxes we could make? I say go ahead with this one! There are already several breeds of dog-wolf things, so why not foxes? I think foxes are smaller than wolves, plus I like their red coat a lot better.
Wes, Mar 09 2001

       I know others have other views....but nothing can compare with galloping madly cross-country, jumping anything in the way, the hounds singing on line..... I love foxhunting!
Susen, Mar 09 2001

       my friend Ben has or had a pet fox
technobadger, Mar 09 2001

       I don't mind foxhunting ... do you *have* hunts in America???
I'm a town-fox man meself... my cat likes to play War Games with foxes. I'm not sure they appreciate it, but they certainly don't feel threatened.
macm, Mar 09 2001

       No, no ,no macm. You've got it all wrong. Foxes should be armed and taught guerilla warfare tactics. If you think fox hunting is exciting now Susen, just wait until they start chasing you!
DrBob, Mar 09 2001


       Science has been working on this. The documentary "The Secret Life of the Dog" included a segment on the "Fox Farm" experiment in Siberia, where Russian biologists selectively bred foxes for friendliness, and in the process discovered not only fascinating things about the retention of juvenile characteristics into adulthood in domesticated creatures (suggesting that dogs are wolves bred for an eternal childhood where they will never challenge the "adult" members of their pack, humans) but also creating foxes that acted like dogs. American Scientist did an excellent article on the farm, but I can only find an abstract on line.   

       Recent funding problems have led the Russians to consider selling foxdogs for both fur farming and pets, so stay tuned.   

       Also, as technobadger points out, people have now and again had normal foxes as exotic pets, including the great English author Ben Jonson, author of, appropriately, "Volpone" (The Fox). However, animal experts say this is usually a bad idea, especially for the fox.   

       See many attached links.
Uncle Nutsy, Mar 09 2001

       I'll take a bonsai kitten in a moebius strip, please.
Wes, Mar 09 2001

       macm.....do we have hunts???? Over 100 recognized hunts! Wide varieties of terrain and even some hunts that hunt coyotes. The Masters of Foxhounds Association of America was established in 1907. The best hunting in America, IMO, is in Virginia and the Carolinas. I have gone foxhunting in Ireland on two occasions....now those people know how to hunt!
Susen, Mar 09 2001

       If foxes were bred to be like dogs, d'ya reckon they'd end up replacing the hounds in a fox hunt?
beauxeault, Mar 09 2001

       Just looking at that top link from Uncle Nutsy, it says: "the wolves that became dogs may have started out as scavengers around human camp sites who became accustomed to human handouts."
Now I reckon that a similar situation already exists with today's town fox population - I think they are already quite friendly. The only problem is that in today's society it might well be illegal to adopt such wild animals as pets?
And as Uncle Nutsy points out "animal experts" say it is a bad idea for the fox -- but if our ancestors had had that "enlightened" attitude, then there might be no dogs today...
macm, Mar 09 2001

       Macm: Well, it's especially a bad idea for the fox, but it's not necessarily a bundle o' fun for the human, either.   

       Foxes have scent glands like skunks, and even if you remove the glands the urine still reeks. They love to dig, so any property you keep a fox on will come to look like the Somme circa 1916, and their fondness for roaming combined with their digging skills means you'd spend a lot of time looking for your escaped fox. See, you guessed it, attached link, for details on this and other problems with keeping wild foxes as pets.
Uncle Nutsy, Mar 10 2001

       The story to which PeterSealy refers is "Allamagoosa" by Eric Frank Russell.
DrBob, Mar 10 2001

       How about just protecting fox habitat instead of domesticating them? We already have way too many unwanted dogs and cats, we don't need any more domesticated critters. Susen: The galloping and jumping sound fun, fun that wouldn't seem to require killing an innocent animal.
mrthingy, Mar 10 2001

       A few points Nutsy: firstly, while I agree that attempting to domesticate a random local fox is foolhardy, that is not what I was suggesting - rather, I was envisaging the "natural" process of domestication that dogs originally underwent many aeons ago (no doubt, when their urine smelt much worse!) - this is what those Russkies did, but they did it in a far more accelerated environment.

Secondly, foxes urinate in my garden *anyway* without being my pets, so I don't see how simply calling it a 'pet' makes any difference. The 'pet fox' wouldn't be confined to the house by any means - it would basically live the life of a cat, free to roam the neighbourhood as it pleases (which is what it does now anyway).

And as for digging holes... well, I've never seen this in all the years that foxes have roamed in my garden - I shouldn't think they would DARE do that to someone's garden, because they're probably smart enough to know they'd get a severe hiding for it. I imagine that they confine their burrowing activities to the urban woodland (I used to live next to a large, ancient forest in the suburbs).

And finally... we don't have rabies in the UK.

Of course, this is a half-baked idea! But the idea is this: friendly urban foxes should be gradually 'brought in' from the cold, e.g. fed more often by humans, allowed to enter the house *if they choose*, allowed to be registered as pets officially, and allowed access to vets. The flipside of this is of course that unfriendly foxes would have to be exterminated in order to prevent them (a) spreading disease to the domesticated kind and (b) breeding with the domesticated kind.

[As a footnote, I ought to point out that I now live in a town where there are no foxes - the seagulls would eat them. My experience of foxes comes from when I lived in London.]
macm, Mar 11 2001

       A point of clarifictation.
I'm not yelling, just making it readible in this long list>
Dogs and wolves are part of the canine family. Foxes are part of the "volpine" family. They cannot cross breed with wolves or dogs even though they resemble them because they simply aren't the same kind of animal. It would be like trying to cross a cat and a monkey. It can't be done.
As far as domesticating, my dad worked for a pet shop when he was young. At the time, they sold foxes. He said baby foxes make excellent pets, but they become problems...biting, scratching, digging, as they get older. Kind of like racoons.
I have to say "no" on this one.
rcornell, Mar 11 2001

       As far as pedantry goes, you're not even correct. Foxes *are* part of the canine *family*, regardless of the fact that they cannot cross-breed with 'strict' dogs (see link) -- what you really mean is that foxes are not part of the *genus* 'Canis'. Your reference to crossing cats and monkeys is particularly specious.

Furthermore, the correct term for a male fox is 'dog'.
macm, Mar 12 2001

       from macm, Mar. 11: "friendly urban foxes should be ... registered as pets ... The flipside of this is of course that unfriendly foxes would have to be exterminated ..."   

       Maybe the fox hunt enthusiasts could help with the extermination. A fox hunt in the city -- now *that* would be fun!
beauxeault, Mar 12 2001

       Tally-ho! Off to the foxes! Galloping down city streets, jumping over homeless people and compact cars.... sign me up!
Susen, Mar 12 2001

       waugsqueke, see my annotation dated Mar. 9.
beauxeault, Mar 12 2001

       They say great minds think alike ... but evidently ours do, too. ;)
beauxeault, Mar 12 2001

       I think Fox Hunters should try out Snipe Hunting.
thumbwax, Mar 12 2001

       I have a pet fox-they are wonderful animals and are a lot better than dogs. Fox keeping should be more encouraged. And as for people who fox hunt, you should be hunted yourselves for harming such a great creature.
Foxy, Jun 11 2001

       I'm always amazed at animal-rights types who consistantly show a greater concern for animals than they do for humans. (See above)   

       Sick, sick, sick. They share company with some of the most imfamous totalitarian butchers in history. I don't care if you elevate animals to the level of people, or reduce people to the level of animals, the twisted result is the same.   

       Animals still aren't "people, too". Sorry.
seal10, Oct 09 2001

       no,they're not people; but that doesn't mean that cruelty to them is justified....(IMHO) nor is it to anything that feels pain.   

       i'll get off my soapbox now... hm. i like the aesthetic idea of a domesticated fox (pretty) but frankly i still prefer cats (ducks blows from all the 'dog people' out there)
Urania, Oct 28 2001

       This from the US -- here we believe that foxes eat pet cats. Isthis not true? We have "our" native gray foxes and red foxes, which are I believe imported from the UK [probably so folks could hunt them.] We have "drag hunts" here where a rider rides a course ahead of the hunters dragging a scent for hte hounds to follow. If you all say they do not eat domestic cats, you sound as if you have enough experience to know. Hurray! I've encountered a couple foxes and they are hypnotically beautiful beasts.
Lulu, Oct 31 2001

       Mmmmm... cats.
Guy Fox, Oct 31 2001

       I read in Discover Magazine back in the 90's about a breeder who had managed to domesticate foxes. The resultant fox "dog" (although not quite the right term since it wasn't a fox-dog hybrid, which I'm fairly certain doesn't exist) had a spotted coat, barked, and was marginally more friendly than a wild fox. Otherwise it looked the same as a wild fox. This was somewhere in Europe, I believe, and can't for the life of me find any more referances to the pet breed. Does anyone know where to find information about this type of animal? I have the article still, but there weren't pictures.
beanslayer, Feb 06 2002

       The only domestic foxes I know about are Fennec, or Desert foxes.
bristolz, Feb 06 2002

       My apologies, I found some information. Perhaps I was mistaken and it was a Russian breeder. The following have information on Domestic and possible wild foxes whose breed might have been domestic.   

       about current Russian Domestic Fox "dog" http://exn.ca/Stories/1999/03/30/55.asp http://www.foxes.org/urbanfox/part3.html   

       about possible previous domestication: http://www.furry.de/suran/fox_db/Dusicyon_australis.html
beanslayer, Feb 06 2002

       Interesting conversation.   

       I personally will be attempting to bring a fox up quite soon, taking all the information that I have learnt over the last few years into account of course. (For many reasons)   

       *** Regarding something said previously.. all these 'animal rights types' are just defending the 'underdog'. As I see it, humans kill other species for their own personal pleasure, something they have no right to do. It has been proven time and time again that fox hunting (for example) has no effect on the fox population (if thats the reason for the hunting).   

       Every argument that has been presented to me in the past was 'shot down'. There is absolutely no justifiable reason to 'recreationally' kill any animal.
DesertWind Kitsune, Jul 17 2002

       This looks cool. I'm a furry (one of a quickly growing group) and the fox is my favorite animal. I would do almost anything to have a fox as a pet. Has there been any more news about the fox domestication? Any places in the U.S. having foxes for sale or anything?
Tobias, Feb 09 2003

       So you were able to semi-tame a skunk w/in that one gerneration of "tamed" babies? I figure you could start breeding tame foxes the easiest way by getting 1 male 1 female, removing the anal glands, and fully declawing them, and giving them lots of attention, and having them mate. Then do the same to 1 male and 1 female of the offspring. Then repeat 1 more time and I would figure they would be a lot tamer and still retain the same physical attributes. I heard on ozfoxes.com that the supposed results of the Russia deal were that they got tame foxes, but they had floppy ears and patterned coats. My question there is why did that end up happening?
Tobias, Mar 03 2003

       well, some dogs have floppy ears - they came from wolves. Ever seen a spotted floppy-eared wolf?   

       How about cats? They came from something like a calico, didn't they?   

       Or the many flowers that came from weeds?   

       The many other domesticated animals? Cows, Chickens, Pigs... they all changed after they were made more domestic.   

       In part, because if you change one attribute, you might accidently change another. Or some attributes are linked together - change one and the others WILL change.   

       It all has to do with DNA, RNA, dominant genes, and the persistance of a gene in a small population.
beanslayer, Mar 25 2003

       [chonkyrios] Skunks took more than 1 generation to 'domesticate'... they've been owned as pets for about 250 years, and it's only in the last 40 or 60 that we've got some skunks well-behaved enough to become 'normal' pets.   

       Then again, 250 years is about 83 skunk generations. How long does a fox live?
Almafeta, May 30 2003

       Rebecca Hoskin, born and Bred Devon Lady, related to Eric Hosking the famous pioneer Bird photographer. She has pursued a successful career in Wildlife Film-making and has her own Pet Fox - Red.   

       Linky - (one cool photograph)
skinflaps, Mar 24 2005

       I read about the Russian fox domesticating experiment in my psychology book when it was talking about inherited traits and stuff. They said the experiment was a success and they have breeders that sell foxes as pets. OH the thing about the floppy eared foxes is true, some foxes even bark now.   

       I actually am a dog person, but its mainly because Im allergic to cats... that and dogs generally are friendly to people.   

       oh, a side note to those who dont know what furries actually are: its a subculture that avidly loves animals and tends to draw (or make costumes of) anthromorphed (or animals with human characteristics a semi modern example would be Disney's Talespin cartoon), moreover many furries enjoy 'yiffing' (animal + animal fornication)either roleplayed, portrayed in artwork, or acted out in aforementioned fur suits. just a heads up.
Seolyk, Sep 20 2005


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