Posts Tagged ‘cross fox’

We have a fox

I’ve written many, many words about wild canids, but I’ve never lived with one.

Until now. Jenna asked me one morning if we could pick up a free fox that was being offered in Craig’s List.

And I didn’t say no…

So we got Clive, a cross phase red fox. His previous owners were feeding him cheap dog food and not the cat food he really needs to thrive. He also was being kept in a tiny dog crate. He now lives in a German shepherd-sized dog crate with lots of house time to run around.

I had no idea Ohio was so open to allowing people to keep pet foxes. You have to apply for a $25.00 permit through the Ohio DNR, and a conservation officer comes to your house and approves it. So Clive is fully legal through the state of Ohio. In Ohio, you can buy a fox from a breeder with your permit, but you cannot just catch little ones in the woods and try to make them pets.

Jenna and I have a lot of dog experience, but he’s still not fully domesticated. He likes to steal things and hide them, and if he decides an item is worth guarding from you, don’t try to take it. Also if you don’t keep his cage clean enough, it will smell like burning rubber. That’s what his glands smell like.

I wouldn’t recommend one of these to just anyone, but if you want something a little different, it’s worth looking into. 

Most states in the US are not as lax as Ohio when it comes to keeping foxes, so please consult your state’s wildlife agencies before trying to get one of your own.

This is the most interesting animal I’ve ever lived with. He wags his tail at you just like a dog, and he loves to have his ears rubbed. He gets those zoomie things that dogs get, which he does all over the house.

We don’t let him interact with the dogs, because he’s a bit stroppy, they are bit leery of him, and he’s pretty fragile. He’s really not much more than an Italian greyhound with lots of fluff.

He’s not a Belyaev domestic fox, but whoever bred him was definitely concerned with producing a fox that is fairly docile and friendly.

You may judge me for keeping such an animal, but I think we can provide him a far better home than just about anyone else who’d pick up a fox on Craig’s List.

I’ll be writing about him a lot more, and there will be Youtube video. I am looking into buying a gray fox from a breeder this next spring, which is sort of my dream animal.

So yes, we are crazy, Crazy to like foxes!

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This depiction of a cross fox comes from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America by John Bachman and John James Audubon.

The cross fox is a color phase of the red fox, which is found almost exclusively in the North American populations. In fact, I’ve never heard of a European cross fox, but if they exist, I’ve not heard of them.

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Cross fox

Cross fox

Contrary to what you might think of an animal with a name like “cross fox,” this animal is not a hybrid animal. It is a lesser known color phase of the red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). It is called a cross fox because it has a band of dark hair running down its back and another band running accross its shoulders. In the biblical sense, this forms a cross.

As far as I know this color variation appears only in North America. In my region, the most common color phase of this species is the typical red. There are a few cross foxes around, but next to zero melanistic foxes. Melanistic foxes with white hairs mixed are called silvers, but virtually none of these exist in my part of the world, except in captive fur-bearing population.

Now, contrary to popular belief, red foxes cannot hybridize with gray foxes. Reds can breed with silvers, because they are the same species. The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) that ranges from southern Canada to Colombia and Venezuela is a very unusual animal.  The genus Urocyon consists of the gray fox and the island fox of the Channel Islands of Southern California. This genus is sometimes considered the most primitive of all dogs, for both of these species retain the ability to climb trees. Indeed, they are very good climbers, almost as good at arboreal locomotion as any cat.

The cross fox is just an interesting coloration of the red fox. It is not a separate species or a hybrid.  Unlike the gray fox, the red fox is not native to most of the Eastern US. Studies of that population confirm that this particular subspecies is almost identical to the red fox of Britain.  This finding makes sense, considering that we have records of introductions from Europe during the eighteenth century.

The Eastern subspecies is Vulpes vulpes fulva. All other subpecies are considered native. The other subspecies tend to  have a higher proportion of melanistic and cross  individuals, both of which are virtually unknown in European populations. It is thought that the melanistic foxes were killed off in Europe, leaving only red ones to breed.  (However, a melanistic one did appear last year in England.)

Now, it’s very interesting that the red fox comes in some many colors. A wide range of coloration matches the varied habitat of this species. Currently, it is the most widespread of all wild carnivores. It is found throughout Eurasia (including Japan), most of North America, and North Africa. It has been introduced to Australia, where it is has proven to be a terrible introduced species, killing off lots of small marsupials and ground nesting birds.

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