Are Foxes a Pest or a Pet?

A cute, fluffy baby fox certainly has appeal as an unusual pet. And there are a number of fox rescue centres across Australia that actively advertise orphaned kits for adoption as family pets. But should you take on a fox as a pet?

If you're thinking of adopting a baby fox, read on to find out more.

Pests or pets?

The first thing to understand is that the fox is not a native Australian species. Because of this they have been officially designated as pests across the whole of the country since 2014, and a Pest Control Order for foxes is currently in force. Wildlife experts say that foxes are responsible for the deaths of many native species as well as killing livestock, and this is why their numbers need to be controlled.

The Pest Control order means that it is illegal for foxes to be kept as domestic pets without a permit, and these are extremely difficult to obtain. You could be landed with a considerable fine if you're caught keeping a pet fox without said permit. Contact your local Land Services Department for more information on permits for keeping foxes. 

Foxes in the home

Adult foxes are not suitable as pets. They are wild animals and as such are likely to be aggressive towards people. They also carry diseases such as mange which can be transmitted to domestic pets. If you find an injured fox on your property, don't try to keep it as a pet. Contact local pest control companies like Dependable Pest Control; they will safely capture the fox and take it to a suitable animal welfare organisation.

Foxes advertised as pets are always kits. However, unlike puppies or kittens, foxes do not grow up to be affectionate and loyal companions. This is because dogs and cats have been conditioned to domestication by people over hundreds of years, whereas foxes have not.

Foxes are by nature instinctual. As such, you can't really house-train them, and the aroma of the urine that they use to mark their territory is virtually impossible to remove from your carpets. In fact, foxes carry a strong pungent aroma with them all the time. It's therefore preferable for both owner and fox to house them outside. You'd need to keep a pet fox in a large outdoor enclosure with high, secure double-chain link fencing sunk at least two metres down into the soil to prevent escape attempts. 

You won't be able to take your pet fox for a walk in the park very easily. Unlike a dog, you can't really teach a fox commands or leash-train it.

If you have other pets, a fox won't make a harmonious addition to your household. Birds or small pocket-pets will be viewed as a potential meal, as will cats and small dogs. A fox's dietary requirements are quite complex. You can't just feed your pet fox ordinary dog food and biscuits. Foxes prefer their food to be alive and to catch it themselves.

Like all domestic pets, foxes do require vaccinating against contagious diseases that can also affect dogs. However, you could have difficulty in finding a vet who is prepared to take on a fox as a patient. 

Although foxes are undoubtedly attractive and have a certain wild beauty, they don't make good domestic pets. In addition to the legalities of owning one in Australia, the practicalities of providing a suitable environment for the fox to live in are beyond the means of most people who live in a suburban or even semi-rural environment.