Toto - Captive-born Arctic Fox - The Catalyst of Arctic Fox Daily
Rest In Paradise, Toto bear. 2012-2022
Toto was the original fox - the "OG" guy - who started this all:
In 2012, I purchased Toto - the only fox I've "purchased" - out of a sketchy situation when he was approximately 4 months old.
This is far older than someone would normally purchase a fox for a companion animal, as it is much more difficult to bond with a fox of this age. However, I knew I needed to get him out of the situation he was in.
This marked the beginning of a rewarding journey of learning how to live with and care for this beautiful species. When word started to get around in the wildlife rescue community that I legally owned and cared for a fox, I slowly started to get calls asking to assist with other foxes, which turned into me quickly becoming specialized in the area of foxes, fast forward several years, and voila, Arctic Fox Daily Wildlife Rescue came to be.
Toto was primarily a "hands-off" fox, and doesn't usually prefer physical attention. However, in his older years, he started to not mind the occasional love-scratch here and there. Even so, he and I had an incredible, unspoken bond. He was the catalyst to what we are today. I will miss him dearly and forever be thankful for what he taught me.
Toto's Winter Coat
Toto's Summer Coat
Lulu - Captive-born Arctic Fox
Lulu came to me when she was only 7 weeks old.
She was purchased by well-meaning people who thought that a fox would be a good fit as a pet for their family, but they learned otherwise. They lived in an apartment in a very populated city, (where it was also very illegal to own a fox without the proper licensing) and they quickly found out that a fox kit is not like a puppy.
Long story short, they discovered that they had made a huge mistake. Knowing that Lulu was bound to eventually be confiscated, and desiring the best for her, they reached out to a canine rescue and asked them to take her. The resuce called me, and the rest is history!
I’ve had a few foxes in my possession with almost identical backgrounds as Lulu’s. Her story is not unique, and an unfortunate reality for many exotic pets. Many exotic species do not make good additions to the average home, require advanced experience, outdoor housing, and need special enrichment. It's important to realize that just because they're cute and seemingly innocent (especially as babies), it doesn't mean they're easy to care for.
Rehoming is more difficult on exotics - especially foxes - than on most domestic animals. Their sense of trust is very fragile, and they bond strongly and quickly to their caretakers when they're young. This is why it's crucial to do extensive research and get hands-on experience with the species before adding any exotic pet to your family.
Thankfully, Lulu was young enough when she arrived here that it wasn't extremely difficult to establish a good relationship with her. She's my girl! And like a lot of us girls, she can be a little moody: Some days, she flops over at my feet - patiently awaiting belly rubs - the second I walk into her enclosure. Other days, I can't get anywhere near her. It's always on her terms.
Lulu's Winter Coat
Lulu's Summer Coat
Archie - Captive-born Arctic Fox
The most important thing you should know about Archie: He's completely blind.
Archie came to our rescue in October 2020. We don't know much about the first part of Archie's life. We were told that Archie was dropped off at a dog rescue in Colorado, and information was passed along that he was born completely blind, and that he was eight years old at the time of this surrender (putting his birthday around 2012).
Next, Archie went to a fox rescue in Minnesota, called Save a Fox. From what we've been told, Archie was pretty depressed acting during his time at Save a Fox, and wouldn't come out of his shell. This was not because of any fault on their part; major life changes are difficult on any fox, especially one who can't see what's going on. After a few conversations back and forth with Save a Fox, we all decided that Archie should come stay here with us! They didn't have any other Arctic foxes, and we had space.
We sectioned off a small corner of Toto and Lulu's enclosure, and kept Archie there for a couple of weeks. This allowed him to become familiar and form a safe spot within the enclosure, while also allowing him, Toto and Lulu to "meet" with a barrier between them. Once we felt that everyone was going to mesh, we opened up the corner, so Archie could come and go as he pleased, while still having his safe spot to return to.
Fast forward, and Archie has come out of his shell beautifully. It's amazing. He's even usually the first of the trio to greet us with a tail wag, looking for a treat! And here's the best part... Lulu has a big crush on him! He and Lulu are like that one couple who bicker way too much (they vocally yell at each other all the time), but at the same time, you couldn't imagine them not together. Toto just rolls his eyes at them. They're the funniest, sweetest Arctic fox trio!
March 2020 Confiscation Rescue Story
Nuit, Ruby, and Judy - Captive-born Red Foxes Rest in Pardise, sweet Cedar, ?-2022
In March of 2020, we were asked to assist in an elaborate rescue mission and confiscation of almost thirty foxes. We kicked into gear, and worked hard to prepare space for them, with only days notice.
These foxes are all various domestic color morphs of the Red Fox species. They were confiscated from a premises where they were not being cared for properly, and were being kept illegally. Originally, these foxes were born on a fur farm (destined to eventually be killed for their fur). Needless to say, the beginning of their lives was pretty rough! Several fox rescuers from around the United States worked together to make sure these foxes had safe places to go once they were removed from the premises. We ended up coming home with nine of these foxes. We were able to find forever-homes in other sanctuaries and nature centers for five of the nine foxes, and four of them remain permanently under our care:
Kaya - Non-releasable Wild-born Red Fox
Beautiful Kaya is one of our most - if not THE most - elusive resident fox here.
Kaya is a Red fox who came in as a wildlife rehabilitation intake (the goal with those intakes is always release back into the wild). She was deemed non-releasable by one of our vets, because of her strangely calm demeanor around humans. She lacked a fear of humans that would leave her safe in the wild.
After my experience with another sweet intake who some of you may remember, Floyd the fox, I decided to have Kaya tested for toxoplasmosis. We ended up finding out that Kaya DID indeed show that she was positive for having had an infection - and had overcome it - at some point.
We don’t know for sure whether Kaya was habituated to humans - maybe someone attempting to keep her as a pet and then released her - or if her calm demeanor is due to the toxoplasmosis infection. Toxo effects an animal’s brain, and the residual brain damage from the infection could very well have been enough to take away her flight or fight instinct, too.
With all of that being said about Kaya’s demeanor - and some other quirks such as her dislike for any raw meat or treats - Kaya still doesn’t “like” people. She prefers to hide in her house if I’m near usually, and doesn’t seek out attention. These situations make me a little sad, because I know Kaya would probably LOVE to be living in the wild. Sadly, we know that Kaya just doesn’t have the ability to survive long if she were to be released. So a safe life in our sanctuary is the best option for this beautiful girl.
Porsha - Non-releasable Wild-born Red Fox
Porsha is a pet surrender that came from out of state. Although Porsha had an extremely loving owner for two years, owning a fox is illegal in most states without proper licensing. Porsha’s owner realized that their current situation could end badly - oftentimes situations like this end in euthanasia of the animal, because there aren’t many rescues who take in foxes - and she did the right thing and reached out for help with placement.
Porsha has a fun, youthful personality, and she goes between super sassy to super loving in seconds. She's a great example of why it's so important to be able to recognize and be familiar with body language when working with foxes. She's a very comical fox!
Tundra - Captive-born Red Fox
Cleo - Captive-born Arctic Fox
Tundra is a male Red Fox (marble color morph) and Cleo is a female Arctic Fox.
This pair came from a wildlife education organization who operated as a traveling zoo. Unfortunately, like many businesses, the pandemic caused them to have to close their doors, and their animals had to be placed elsewhere. Thankfully, they found their way to us for placement for Tundra and Cleo.
I don’t know the full, original backstory about these guys, but it sounds like both came to this organization as rescue cases to start out - possibly a pet surrender and a fur farm rescue.
Is anyone thinking “Wait, an Arctic and a Red species cohabitating together?!”
That’s right - these two have been housed together for several years! I have no intentions of separating the pair. Although not unheard of, it is not as common for the two species to get along in captivity. In the wild, Arctic Foxes and Red Foxes are enemies, as the larger, more powerful, Red species is quickly overlapping the territory of Arctic Foxes. Cleo and Tundra are absolutely considered a bonded pair; during the spring, when wild foxes would be raising young, Tundra caters to Cleo as if she was a Mama fox. He will save his treats and bring them to her, he'll carry toys around in his mouth - whilst making soft, loving whines - treating them like his "babies". Trust me, if you saw the way he treats his lady during that season, you'd wish you had a partner like that, too!
These two have bonded strongly to me, and I have a wonderful relationship with them (although it was rocky in the beginning with Tundra - he gave me the worst bite wound I've ever received from a fox!). These lovebirds have quickly become superstars of Arctic Fox Daily.
Siva - Captive-born Red Fox
Finn - Captive-born Red Fox
Siva and Finn's Story
Let’s talk about Finn and Siva’s story, and touch on an overlooked reality of exotic pet ownership:
These two captive-born Red Foxes have been residents here since October 2019. Their human mom legally obtained and owned them, but although she owned them legally on a federal and state level, there were local ordinances put into effect that made it illegal for her to own her foxes, and she was given only a few weeks by the court to get rid of them. She reached out to me, and told me the situation she was in. She needed someone to take in her foxes, but didn’t want to give them up to just anywhere.
We’re incredibly impressed with their mom, because unlike many owners who surrender their pets and don’t keep their word on staying in their life, she is very involved. She helps with chores a couple times per month around here, and always brings treats for not only Finn and Siva, but all the foxes. (She even brings treats for MY human babies occasionally, too!)
This is an easily overlooked truth about “exotic pets”. There are many different levels of laws pertaining to them, and if you fall into a situation like this family did, then you have two main choices: 1) Uproot your life and move, to keep your pets, or 2) Rehome your animal. Option 2 is hard for any animal, and especially exotic pets, because they bond so strongly to one or two people, and lose trust extremely fast. It’s incredibly hard on them.
Loki - Captive-born Red Fox
Loki has a sad yet simple story...
He was very well-loved by his previous owners, and he primarily lived in their house. He was used as an exhibition animal for a few years, as his previous family had a small business where they traveled with exotic species that they owned. They had legally owned Loki under a USDA Exhibitor's license, however, when further NYS regulations were released for certain species, from our understanding, they were unable to obtain the new license now required to own a fox in NYS.
They were not alone in this scenario, as I've heard of many others going through this. It's a double-edged sword... it's good that the state is making it harder for most people to own exotics (as so many get rehomed due to the level of care required), however, it's very sad for animals that have an established, loving home.
This was, yet again, another great example of how important it is to know about, adhere to, and stay up to date with your federal, state, and town-level laws.
Micah - Captive-born Red Fox
Pearl - Captive-born Red Fox
Micah and Pearl's Story
These two were placed with us after being confiscated by law enforcement from a fellow New York State facility. In most areas, special licenses are required to own exotic/wild animals. In New York State, for example, I hold multiple state and federal licenses in order to legally care for, raise, and provide sanctuary to both the wild and captive-bred foxes. I feel blessed to be able to provide a home to displaced animals like this, as there aren’t many of us fox rescues around the United States, and many confiscated or re-homed foxes don’t have a happy fate.
Pearl and Micah came in with both internal and external parasites, and Micah was matted very badly on his back end (you can see where he’s plucked most of the mats away and his skin is bare), but aside from that, they were in good spirits upon arrival to our facility!
Mori - Non-releasable Wild-born Red Fox
Mori was an exhibit animal at a zoo, and due to his timid temperament, it was too stressful of an environment for him. He is going to do much better in a sanctuary environment like ours, where exposure to the public is extremely limited.
We are unsure why Mori was originally deemed non-releasable. We assume that, as a kit, somebody may have thought he was "too friendly" to be released. Now that enough time has passed with Mori being in captivity - although he is shy - he is definitely too habituated to be able to be a candidate for release, and will live out his days in a sanctuary environment.
Dakota and Tikita's Story
Dakota - Captive-bred Wolfdog, 53.5% Gray Wolf
Tikita - Captive-bred Wolfdog, 52.2% Gray Wolf
Tikita and Dakota were confiscated by our state's Department of Environmental Conservation, because their previous owner did not hold the proper license to own what New York deems "Dangerous Animals". We were told that this was also a hoarding case, but we do not know all the details of their background, so we cannot confirm that statement. We are never out to judge previous owners - regardless how good or bad conditions may have been - but rather, are just grateful that we can provide a safe, forever home to confiscated animals.
In many parts of the United States, Wolfdogs and/or Wolf Hybrids require special permits to own. There is a lot of controversy surrounding wolfdogs: Some people view them as just another higher-maintenance "breed" of dog, and some view them as a "wild" animal (although these animals are not actually wild, because they're born in captivity).
What I can tell you is this: Wolfdogs require an owner who is able to be very in-tune with subtle body language and capable of giving them the respect they need, and they require a very sturdy form of containment. Many wolfdogs can scale a 6-foot fence with ease, and can dig very well. They require either a fully-covered enclosure, or, 8-foot fencing with 45 degree angle lean-ins at the top to prevent climbing out. They also need a dig guard barrier to prevent tunneling out.
Although they can sometimes make excellent companions (but do NOT make good "guard dogs") to owners that they accept into their pack, wolfdogs can sometimes be harder to read than either 1) domestic dog breeds or 2) wolves, because they can have the flighty instinct of a wolf, mixed with the confidence of a dog.
If you are not extremely experienced with difficult dog breeds, do not have experience with exotic or wild animals, and do not have the ability to provide a large, secure form of containment, we do not advise purchasing a wolfdog as a pet. Many of these animals are displaced (and sadly, many euthanized) because of owners who had false expectations at the time of purchasing a puppy. Extensive research is definitely required before obtaining a "pet" wolfdog.