A look into the possibility of actually owning a fox through responsible and reliable processes.
This article also appears on the Fox and the Hound board on the forum: http://www.animationsource.org/board/is-the-fox-as-a-pet-thing-out-of-the-realm-of-possibility-t33993.html
By now, I am sure a lot of you have heard of the on-going Russian experiment into the process of domestication (started in the 1950s), in which a team of Russian scientists took a small population of silver foxes, divided them up into control and experimental groupings, and began studying how domestication may have occurred naturally and through normal "selective breeding" processes in the ancient world, rather than through behavior modification or genetic manipulation. It was (and still is) a remarkable and very intelligent experiment, and while I won't go into it in detail, it apparently became SO successful, that the group of foxes which exhibited the most gradually-increasing friendliness and trust towards human contact (and concurrent minor physical changes...ears apparently occasionally becoming a bit more droopy, tails generally being carried curled up over the back more than wild foxes, changes in coloration from wild colors and patterns to more domestic piebalds and other types...all having occurred without genetic manipulation by humans), that the scientists ended up with an overflow of descendants which were not only completely tame, but actively sought out human contact and interacted with humans just as dogs do. As a result of that program, the scientists determined that that particular stock actually went through some natural genetic changes without manipulation...like wolves once did in prehistory, their genetics started to shift in conjunction with the domestication process. Very interesting stuff!
The result? They started outsourcing the human-friendly, domestic offspring to specific programs in other countries, with the intent of finding loving homes for them AND, most likely, to help find contined funding for their work I am sure. (Some links below)
Not that there haven't been others who have tried hand-raising what started out as wild-stock red and silver foxes. Though not as controlled and scientifically-laudable as the Russian project (even though the original intent of the Russian project wasn't to start a pet breeding program), there does seem to have been some success. I found one specifically, organized by a disabled military veteran here in the U.S. I will provide that link below too, as he SEEMS to be reliable and cares a great deal, quite obviously, about the animals and where they end up. And he seems to have acquired a good deal of knowledge about foxes both wild and tame. I am not saying I specifically endorse him or recommend him (I don't know enough about keeping foxes as pets, much less about him or his stock, to say one way or the other).
At the bottom is a great link, from the Cornell Unversity webpage, about foxes the world over.
The point here? Well, we've seen in the Fox and the Hound movie how the Widow Tweed takes in Tod and raises him from when he was a "kit" (granted, he was a wild fox). It would seem that it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility to acquire and own a pet fox, if you go through the right and the reliable channels (and not trying something stupid like pulling one out of the wild...kit or especially adult).
Now, the catch: while the vet I was talking about seems to offer the kits from his breeding program at the standard rate you might get your average domestic dog (as a puppy)...which appears to be in the range of $600.00 (and he clearly is as strict about screening potential owners as any reliable dog breeder), the outsourcing program here in the U.S., which provides homes to the completely (and naturally)-domesticated foxes from the Russian scientific study, charges a whopping $7000.00 for their stock. That's a bit out of most peoples' price range (unless they're either independently wealthy or have spotless credit)...and I know I wouldn't (and couldn't) pay that, even if I am fascinated by the stock and very interested.
Looking for a pet fox? Seems this would be the way to go, and it is not out of the realm of possibility for you! If you've got the money, that is (I know of no resources in other countries...I only found the stuff located in the U.S. But I am sure there are similar breeders -- and official outsourcing locations for the Russian program -- elsewhere in North America, Central America, South America, Europe and Asia).
1. The Russian experiment (this webpage is an American one, located at Cornell University as part of a collaborative effort, and describes the study in detail, and shows video and other resources):
2. The official American outsourcer for the Russian program, located in the U.S. (which has called itself an "official distributor of tame foxes from Russia, and yet their home page now says you have to contact the "Novosibirsk Institute of Cytology and Genetics" itself to inquire. Weird. AND they've taken down the FAQ item explaining the cost of acquiring one of the foxes and replaced it with something VERY vague...probably because of "sticker shock" reactions from curious visitors.) Though they do have a contact e-mail for their own site located on the home page. I would start there if you're interested. The Russian institute's website doesn't have any specific information page which goes into inquiring about the foxes from their study):
3. The home page of "Redmon Fox", the breeder of tame American red foxes whom I mentioned above:
4. His YouTube page, which shows his foxes and kits, and in which he goes into some detail about care and raising (he seems a tad eccentric, but I have met very few domestic dog breeders which weren't at least as eccentric, if not more so):
5. A fantastic informational and educational webpage about foxes around the world: