How to Care for a Baby Red Fox

By Greg Ruland

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Items you will need

  • Canine growth formula

  • Earthworms

  • Nuts and berries

  • Esbilac (powder or liquid)

  • Lectade

  • Walking jacket

  • Chain link fence

  • Dry dog food

  • Taurine pills

  • Cage/Kennel

  • Heat warmer

Foxes aren't dogs, so owning one shouldn't be taken lightly. Foxes are exotic animals that can be owned without a license or permit in at least nine states. If owning a fox is legal in your state and municipality, it's critical that you research the species you plan to own and are prepared to service its special needs. Many people may be forced to care for an un-weaned fox until they can find an animal rehabilitation center. An un-weaned, orphaned fox should be under the care of a veterinarian, but in order to keep it alive, there are things you can do in the interim.

Feed the kit (or baby fox) a tissue fluid replacement for the first meal. If you've recovered an orphaned baby fox, it's important to replenish it with electrolytes, glucose and glycine. Lectade can be diluted with water and the fox should drink it voluntarily.

Hold the fox. Kits require much care and it can easily get itself in trouble if not supervised. Allow it to stretch its legs or lie down close to you if it squirms. A kennel or cage for moderately sized dogs will work if you're forced to leave it for short periods of time. Place a heat warmer underneath a blanket inside the cage.

Feed the fox milk formula if it's still in its weaning stage, which are usually four to six weeks after birth. You must feed it every two hours if it's just a couple weeks old. Feed it the milk formula every three hours if it has its eyes open and longer fur has developed in the third week.

Monitor its toileting. Make sure that the orphan baby expels urine and feces or it may get sick. You can stimulate bowl movements in the kit by taking soft tissue paper and gently stroking its genital area in a downward motion. Contact a local veterinarian if unsure or uncomfortable in the task.

Construct a makeshift pen. Weaned and unweaned kits must have a pen or simulated burrow. It's not necessary to create the pen underground, though it would be a fox's natural preference. Surrounding an open area with a chained link fence with corrugated panels serving as a rooftop could suffice. Never leave a kit vulnerable to bad weather conditions. If you're only taking care of an un-weaned fox for a short period of time, ensure that its sleeping area (preferably indoors) has a pet toy (which acts as surrogate mother) and is at least room temperate. A heat warmer can be placed underneath its blanket at night.

Allow the kit to run or walk about open areas. The kit will likely want to run away if it can, so make sure that you let it out in an enclosed area like a backyard. A kit fox should be given multiple opportunities outdoors every day.

Feed the weaned kit. If you're planning on taking care of a weaned kit for an extended period of time, feed it at least twice a day. Canine growth formula should be a central part of its diet. You can supplement it with earthworms, potatoes and berries. If you're planning on giving the fox to a rehabilitation center, which will then reintroduce it to the wild, introduce the kit to dead animals like rats or mice if possible.

Walk the fox. Wild fox can walk and run many miles in a day. It's imperative to get the fox regular exercise; give it at least two walks a day if you can. Attach a walking jacket to the fox. Kits are known to escape from leashes and can be injured by a harness.

Tips

  • You must be licensed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture if you plan to sell or breed foxes.

Warnings

  • Do not feed foxes raisins, caffeine, chocolate, green peppers, macadamia nuts, onion, garlic or avocados. Don't feed a fox anything you wouldn't feed a pet dog or cat.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Author

Greg Ruland began writing professionally in 1978. His work has been published most recently in "Sedona Red Rock News," "Cottonwood Journal Extra," "Lifestyles of Sedona" and the Sedona Red Rock News Website. Ruland holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Oregon School of Law.