Juniper the fox is a growing social media sensation.
A tame red fox kept as a pet, Juniper captures hearts with her adorable smile, mischievous hijinks and her love of Moose, her dog companion and best friend.
Owning a fox is a dream for many people, but according to her owners, it's certainly not something to be taken lightly.
Meet Juniper the Fox
Juniper is not a rescue pet, nor was she a wild fox orphan found in the woods. She was bred from domesticated foxes raised on fur farms and was purchased when she was young.
The most famous case of selective breeding for domesticated red foxes began at The Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Soviet Russia in the 1950s.
But just because she was raised by humans from the beginning doesn't mean she acts like a domestic dog; she's distinctly a fox, with all of their quirks.
But Juniper loves her parents and, more importantly, she loves her boyfriend, Moose. He's a six-year-old Australian Shepherd who tolerates everything Juniper does to him.
When foxes "own" something, they like to put their butts on them. Moose is sat on quite often.
What Are Foxes Like?
Foxes kept as pets in the house are known to bond very closely to only their owners, and tend to be distrustful or wary of strangers. With their human parents, they can be quite affectionate and playful.
They are adorable creatures who can keep you entertained for hours with their antics. From jumping on the bed to pouncing on anything that moves, they are certainly cute.
But there are plenty of drawbacks to owning a fox. They have a significant musky smell. They cannot be de-scented, so the smell is something fox owners learn to live with. They can be housebroken to an extent, but they also like to mark "their" objects by peeing on them, which is a strong odor that is near impossible get out.
The red fox (vulpes vulpes), unlike other mammals, hears low-frequency sounds very well. It can hear small animals digging underground! The fox stalks its prey, much like a house cat. It gets as close as it can and then pounces and chases its prey. The fox harnesses the earth's magnetic field to hunt.
So exotic pet owners need to be prepared as they are mostly nocturnal but venture out a little during the day!
Foxes are known to be friendly and curious. They play among themselves, as well as with other animals like cats and dogs do. They are dog-like! A domestic fox is docile to people.
And they really do have a lot in common with house cats. Foxes are the only member of the dog family that can climb trees! They also make 40 different sounds. Their scream is thought to be pretty startling though! With that in mind, imagine what a domesticated dog may think if they live with a pet red fox!
Dogs are often confused or antagonized by the presence of foxes, as they are very different species. It can be difficult to introduce a fox into a home where dogs live, and their natural instinct will be to run.
There are 37 species of foxes. The best known of them are Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Fennec Fox, and the Gray Fox.
Spruce Pets tells us that the fennec foxes are good pets,
"The fennec fox has been kept as a pet for a long time. They are known for their small size, large ears, long life expectancy, and sweet personalities. The fennec fox falls under the "exotic animal" or "non-domesticated species" description in most state regulations." These small foxes only weigh a few pounds as adults so they aren't for most households with small children or pets.
Other foxes that are not as popular as pets? The red fox and arctic fox (a.k.a. pet silver foxes) are not commonly seen as pets.
What Does it Cost to Own a Fox?
Juniper's parents warn potential fox owners about the extensive needs of these animals and the great expenses it takes to keep them. Common costs include:
$200 a month for food: Foxes do not do well on all-kibble diets. They require a good deal of raw meat, eggs, and vegetables. Foxes need a nutrient called taurine to survive, which is found in animal tissues. Juniper gets fed a diverse diet of venison, chicken, turkey, beef, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
$2,500 for enclosure and enrichment: Foxes cannot be kept entirely indoors. They need a great deal of outdoor space to roam and dig. If cooped up in a bedroom, they can become very stressed, destructive, and even aggressive.
Juniper's family created her an outdoor enclosure that is dig-proof and has a roof so she cannot escape. Her habitat has trees for her to climb on, dens, an underground tube, and plenty of room to run.
$150-400 for vet visits: Your average small animal vet will not care for foxes. You will need to take your fox to an exotic animal or wild animal specialist, which can be significantly more expensive.
Foxes should be vaccinated with the canine rabies vaccines, and kits should be 16 weeks old before they're vaccinated for rabies. If the fox bites someone, the public health department won't recognize the vaccine in most cases and the fox will be treated as unvaccinated. It doesn't mean the vaccine doesn't work in these species; it just hasn't been tested and shown to be effective.
Foxes can be wonderful house pets, but require very special owners who understand the unique temperaments of these woodland creatures. With the right environment and lots of patience, they can be loving and affectionate companions. Also, make sure you check with your state laws because they are still considered exotic animals and may require a permit.
In fact, some states have banned exotic pet ownership altogether, so select your state of residence wisely.
If you cannot own a fox, research conservation centers like the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center as you can sponsor a fox.
Follow Juniper fox's Instagram account for more adorable photos of the happiest fox.
All photos are courtesy of Juniper the Fox.
Do you have a pet fox? Show us in the comments!
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