a) Nail clipping:Foxes have semi-retractable claws. Their claws stick out like that of dogs, but they are sharper. Unlike felines, foxes don't use their nails to purposely scratch you. However, when you pick a fox up its claws will most likely hurt you as the fox tries to find a grip to hold onto you. Foxes also use their claws to dig which is why I recommend to trim their nails if they are indoor pets. To trim a fox's nails, use a cat nail trimmer. Hold the fox in your lap with a hand under it (that holds its paw as well). Use your other hand to trim the nails, cutting only the clear part without getting too close to the pink, where the veins start. If one does not want to trim a fox's nails, there is an other alternative which is Soft Paws. Soft Paws are plastic-designed nail covers that come in different sizes, to fit different sizes and species of animals. They are placed on the animals claws with the help of glue, and held in place for 30 seconds - 1 min before it glues itself. Soft caps usually hold for about 2 weeks, then they fall, since the animal's nails keep growing underneath. These coverers come in different colours too!
To recapitulate: - Foxes have semi-retractable claws. - Foxes don't purposely scratch, like cats do. - They use their claws to find a grip and dig, dig, dig. - Cat nail trimmers are perfect to trim their nails. - Place the fox on your lap. - Place one hand under your fox's belly. - Hold your fox's paw with that same hand. - Trim the nails with the other hand. - Never cut too close to the pink area; only cut the clear zone of the nail. - Second choice: SOFT PAWS. - Plastic nail covers, fixed with glue (must be held 30 seconds - 1 minute to stick on the fox's nail). - Lasts about 2 weeks, the time the animal's claws grow long again. - Come in different colours and sizes.
b) Brushing:Foxes don't require too much brushing throughout the year. Unlike cats, they don't shed too much during winter. However, at the approach of spring, they massively shed for a few weeks; time in which they're losing their long winter coat. This happens between the end of April and for the very late ones, the end of July. Blowing off their whole winter coat takes generally about 3-4 weeks. Their hair detaches itself in big clumps which are easy to have a grip of. Brushing 10-20 minutes per day during this period would help remove the whole winter coat faster. Otherwise, foxes don't really require being brushed, as cats would do. A tip for fox owners: keep your fox's winter coat hair, wash it, and find a fur company to sell it to. It's considered fur trim and it's very valuable. It's also a better alternative; instead of killing a live fox for its skin, and then trimming the pelt to only use some clumps of it, the fur companies will use the old winter coats.
To recapitulate: - Foxes only majorly shed once a year, when they lose their winter coat. - Shedding season: between end of April and end of July (for the late ones). - Takes about 3 or 4 weeks to blow off entirely their coat. - Brushing is required, 10-20 minutes per day during this period. - Hair falls out in big clumps.
Extra: Keep the winter coat and sell it to fur companies or artisans. It can be pretty valuable, especially if you have a more unusual colour morph of the V. Vulpes.
c) Bathing: Despite their smell, foxes are naturally clean animals that wash themselves somewhat like cats and other felines do. They can sometimes be seen washing themselves for a quarter of an hour or even more! Bathing a fox is not something that should be done too often as it can lead to major skin irritation. Fox kits are pretty messy; they walk in their own feces and urine, sleep in it, etc. Bathing a kit should not be done more than once a week, but recommended to be done only twice per month as an overall. As they reach adulthood, they become more picky about cleanliness and stop sleeping in their urine and/or feces. At time point in their life, which means past adulthood, they should not be bathed more than once per month. Grooming them (brushing) removes the dirt that might get stuck in their fur. Other than that, bathing is no real necessity. During summertime, foxes should be given baths more than during winter time, in which their long winter coat almost self cleans with the ice-cold snow. However, summer baths shouldn't be done more than twice a month. Shampoo must be for dogs.
To recapitulate: - Foxes are clean animals. - They bath themselves, for 15+ mins. - Too many baths lead to eczema and skin irritations. - Use animal shampoo to avoid problems mentioned above. - Kits are messy and walk in their own urine/feces. - Kits should be bathed maximum 3-4 times a month. Preferable only 1-2 times per month. - Adults don't require more than 1 bathing per month, if necessary. - Brushing an adult fox will remove dirt from its fur without the need of a bath. - Summertime: 2 baths per months if necessary. - Wintertime: no baths at all (unless if really necessary).
a) Litter box:Foxes are incredibly smart and learn very quick to use the litter box. However, most V. Vulpes foxes never become 100% litter trained. They will always have a ''miss'' especially of feces. Usually, red foxes use their feces and/or urine to mark their territory as well as things they consider theirs (even if they don't actually belong to them). This can be a cellphone, their food bowl, a toy, etc. Most foxes also pee of excitement when they see their owner or an animal. Overall, foxes will do about 90% of the time in the litter box, and will miss when they decide to mark something or when they pee of excitement. Some foxes are very picky; if their litter box is not cleaned every day, they will stop using it, and 'do their business' right next to it. If the fox has a ''miss'', clean the spot with a vinegar solution, to be sure the smell is completely removed and by doing so, to ensure the fox won't go pee/defecate in that same spot again and again. The litter must be typical agglomerating cat litter. The box must be 2-3 times bigger than a typical cat litter box, as foxes are way bigger than cats when they're adults. When you get the fox kit, place it in a small dog crate, with a litter fox, food/water bowl and a few toys. The fox might directly go into the litter box. If so, encourage it and slowly leave the fox in a bigger area with the box, until it is trained enough to wander in the whole house and return in the litter box when needed. If the fox pees or defecates next to the litter box, in the dog crate, scoop the feces and place them back in the litter box, then clean the urine. The fox will follow the smell of its own feces and use the litter box next time it will feel the need to 'do its business' again. Some foxes do 100% litter train, but most will be 90%. As they grow up some foxes might start defecating in their food trays; it is a normal possessive behavior that cannot be stopped.
To recapitulate: - Foxes are fast learners when it comes to litter training. - On average they are 90% litter train, though some can be less, and some, 100% litter trained. - Litter box must be 2-3 times bigger than a cat's box. - Use agglomerating cat litter. - Clean every day; foxes are picky on cleanliness. - Foxes pee and defecate to mark sometimes (but not often!). - Some foxes, not all though, pee of excitement when they see their owner or an animal they like. - To litter train, put the fox kit in a dog crate with the litter box, food and water bowl and toys. - If the fox kit pees/defecates in the box, you can slowly expand its space to train it to continue to use the litter box even in bigger areas. - If the fox kit pees/defecates elsewhere, scoop the feces and place them in the litter box. The kit will follow the smell and start using the box.
b) Nipping/biting: Foxes nip and bite when they play. Their teeth are the most used part of their body when it comes to playtime. Their sharp teeth are also used to bite when feeling scared or threatened. When threatened, foxes won't bite and tore the skin apart like dogs would do when they attack. A fox will only strike fast, bite, and then go back to the hiding spot. A fox's teeth are 3-4 times the size of those of a fully grown cat (felis catus familiaris). To prevent stress-caused biting, make sure you avoid bringing your fox in stressful environments or to make any fast, unexpected movements towards it. To prevent play-biting, never let the fox play-bite on your fingers while playing. Always use a toy instead of your own fingers, that way the fox will get used to nip on its toy. If the fox continues to play-bite nevertheless, firmly say 'NO' when it does so, tap with a finger on its nose and stop playing. If it persists, use a vinegar solution to spray.
To recapitulate: - Fox teeth are 3-5 times bigger than an adult cat's. - They often play-bite. - Fox don't attack viciously like dogs, they strike fast, bite and hide somewhere safe if threatened. - To prevent stress-caused bites, never make unexpected and fast moves towards your fox while making loud sounds. - To dissuade play-biting, use a toy to play with your fox instead of your own hand. - If biting persists, firmly say 'NO' and tap on the fox's nose with one finger. - If even after this, the undesirable behavior still persists, use a vinegar solution to spray on the fox's face whenever it play-bites.
c) Leash & harness:Foxes have a lot of energy to consume, more than the average household dog. This is why leash and harness training is a must. Taking your fox out for walks and/or hikes in the woods ensures your fox gets enough physical activity every day and rightly spends its stocked energy. Harnesses are more recommended than collars, as collars can be easily escaped out of (and foxes are escape artists). Once an adult fox is on the loose, chances are it will never return to you, unless you are very lucky. It is also recommended the leash to have a metal wire inside of it, to prevent the fox from chewing through it. Never leave a fox off-leash outdoors, unless it's in your backyard, and unless your backyard is secure enough (at least 6ft tall fence, completely fenced, no space underneath the fence, etc.) Get your fox kit used to wear a cat harness from a very young age. Leave the harness on your kit several hours each day. Then start taking your fox out once it tolerates the harness. Having a dog is a plus, as foxes tend to follow well-behaved dogs on leash outdoors. Otherwise, calmly walk, gently call your fox when it stops without pulling too much as it may stress the fox, and whenever the fox walks well behind, next or in front of you, make sure to give it a treat. Take your fox out on a leash as often as you can when it is young, both to socialize it with other strangers and to leash-train it!
To recapitulate: - Foxes need to consume their high energy levels. - Harness > collar, as harnesses are more safe and harder to escape from than collars. - Always keep your fox leashed outdoors. - You can only let your fox off-leash outdoors if your yard is completely fenced, has no space under the fence and an at least 6 feet tall fence. - The fox's leash should preferably have a metal line inside of it, to prevent the fox from chewing. - Leave your fox kit with a harness on for several hours each day, to get it used to wearing it. - Once the kit is okay with the harness on, take it out for walks. - Walk calmly, and whenever the kit stops, gently call it while handing over a treat. - If you have a dog that walks well on leashes, take it out on walks at the same time as the fox; foxes tend to follow dogs when they are on leash outside. - Take your kit on leash outdoors as much as possible in the first months to ensure good leash-training and socialization.
d) Undesirable digging:Foxes are born diggers. They will dig to play, to hunt and to build their den, which is used as a nest for the kits and a home for the adults.In captivity, foxes will dig no matter what punishment methods one might use. It's their natural instinct to do so, and breaking instincts is hard, near, if not, impossible. If you don't want the fox to dig in flower/plant pots or in expensive couches or carpets, just don't let the fox in the same room with them. If you're in the same room with the fox when it starts digging, firmly and loudly shout 'NO'. If the digging persists, use a vinegar solution to spray on the fox's face. A pet repellent (similar to the one used to prevent cats from scratching furniture) can be used, though its effectiveness is not 100% verified with foxes.
To recapitulate: - Foxes are naturally great diggers. There is no way to stop a fox from digging, ever. However, there are ways to dissuade the fox to dig in your presence. - Don't let the fox in the same room where there are expensive couches, flower pots, or any other thing susceptible to be dug into by the fox. - If the fox digs indoors, shout 'NO'. - If digging persists, spray vinegar solution on the fox's face while saying 'NO'. - If nothing above works to dissuade the fox from digging, use pet repellent and spray it on what you want to protect from the fox. The effectiveness of pet repellent on foxes is still unknown though.
e) Food aggression:Foxes in the wild consider anyone trying to come next to them while they eat, a threat. This kind of behavior can be very commonly found in pet ranched foxes. To dissuade your fox from exhibiting food aggression, get it used to your presence near its food bowl from a very young age. Start off by putting food in your fox's bowl, placing the bowl on the floor but without letting go of it. The fox will come and eat, might growl, snarl or even try to nip on you. In that case, don't push things. Repeat the same exercise every feeding time. When you notice the fox is comfortable enough to have your hand on the bowl while eating, try to pet its head and muzzle. If the fox reacts calmly and gently, try putting your hand in the food bowl and remove some food. You might want to try to use leather gloves for this step, unless you don't mind being bitten by the fox. Repeat everything mentioned previously as often as possible, especially during the first 3 months of your fox's life with you. Repeat from time to time afterwards, twice a week for an average, to ensure your fox remains calm. Remember, even with these methods, most foxes will still exhibit food aggressive behavior. If your fox steals something from you, something linked to food, be prepared and try to get as fast as possible another food article or a toy that will be more interesting for the fox. Once the fox's attention is on the new article, take back the old one and place it somewhere where it is out of reach of your fox, to prevent it from being stolen by your furry companion again.
To recapitulate: - Foxes are commonly food-aggressive in the wild, and as pets. - Start getting your fox used to your presence around the food bowl from a very young age! - Keep a hand on the food bowl while your fox kit eats from it. - If the fox growls and snarls, don't push things. Repeat the same step every feeding session, for days or even weeks until the fox gets used to it. - Once the fox tolerates your hand's presence on the bowl during feeding time, start petting the fox's head and muzzle with your other hand. - Repeat the step above for a few days, to get the fox accustomed. - Once the fox is calm enough, try to put your hand gently in the food bowl. Use leather gloves to prevent defensive biting. - Repeat all the steps above as often as possible for the first 3 months of your fox's life with you. - After 3 months, repeat twice a week on average to keep the fox accustomed to your presence near its food. - If fox steals food-related item, try to catch his attention with food or a toy, and grab the stolen item as soon as the fox is not paying attention to it anymore.
f) Undesirable chewing: Foxes are chewers, just as much as they are diggers. They will chew on their toys, on your clothes (if they are left hanging around on the floor) on chair legs, pillows, cables, etc. anything that they can have a grip of with their mouth, they will chew on it. To prevent the fox from chewing your pillows, blankets or any plush-like materials/objects, make sure you never buy your fox a plush toy. Only buy plastic toys, this way the fox won't get used to chew on plush. Whenever you catch the fox chewing on objects such as pillows, cables, etc. firmly and loudly say 'NO' while spraying a vinegar solution on its face. If the chewing behavior persists with the cables, purchase cable protectors. Make sure you don't let clothes, books, magazines or even plastic bags laying on the floor, as the fox will most likely grab them,run away with them & start chewing on them and tore them apart. Keep the house clean and all sorted out.
To recapitulate: - Foxes chew on everything that their mouth can grab. - Never leave clothing, bags, magazines, etc. on the floor: the fox will grab them, hide them and tear the apart. - Never purchase plush toys for the fox; it will then consider any other plush-like objects (pillows, etc.) toys and will chew on them. - If the fox chews cables or anything else, say 'NO' and spray a vinegar solution on its face. - Hide the cables, or purchase cable protectors to place around them.
g) Dominance over toys/objects: [not completed]
h) Screaming (at night/during the day): [not completed]