Living With Taz the Fox
Did you ever consider having a fox as a pet? Well, let me tell you a few stories about Taz's exploits and then we'll see if you still want one.
Taz came to Felids and Friends from a sanctuary in which it's two foxes had a litter of pups. All of the babies had been given away by the time we received Taz at eight weeks. You have to know also that his mother was not a big fan of humans so Taz already had a dislike and distrust of humans. That of course is a good thing in the wild but a minor obstacle for a relationship between human and fox. Needless to say, this human discovered just how sharp a fox's teeth can be. He was such a cute little devil, so how could anyone have been mad at him. Anyway, Taz took to the house very quickly. A fox is incredibly intelligent and adaptable. As we know, the fox thrives around human population.
Taz made friends (for the most part) with the five cats in the house, Lilly, Mozart, Peanut, Pumpkin and Ivy. He even used the litter box. He liked the litter box so much, he even moved its contents around the house for human Jim to clean up. By the way, Taz is short for "Tasmanian Devil" 'cause he can run real fast. He would be seen for hours on end racing back and forth from one end of the house to the other. He looked like a little blur.
Keep in mind some other "minor" points about a fox's behavior. They are nocturnal. As you all know that means he is active at night. That's the minor (major?) point. Taz was at his best in the middle of the night. (fox standards of measurement) While human Jim tried to get some sleep so he could go to work the next day, Taz decided it was time to play. His favorite things to do were: pull the covers off of Jim, and bite his toes. He especially liked it when the irritated human decided to chase him through the house. (mad is a better word) Taz was so fast that he would wait for the human to catch up so he could run off in the lead again. So, after that, the human would go back to bed and pull the covers up for a nice restful sleep. Nope! Taz was back. Guess what? Yup! The covers were on the floor again. Taz sure liked this game. For extra fun Taz would chew every thing in site. You usually detected his nightly projects in the morning. For instance, when Human Jim put his pants on - they almost went right over his head. Taz liked to chew the crotches out. Try putting on a belt and only have half of it. Yup! Taz! Forget about socks. He got into drawers and chewed every sock he could find. Don't even ask about underwear.
During his nightly fun times, he hung out with the cats. They showed him how to open cupboard doors. Being the smart guy that he was, he learned to open up just about everything in the cupboard. But, Taz could even tic off his friends. In a fit of rage, this human witnessed the cats (Taz's so called friends) line up on the table top and hang their paws and legs over the edge. Then, when Taz came running by, (he never walked) they would all swat him with their paws. Taz didn't mind though, he would jump up on the table to play this cool game with the cats. Of course the cats would scatter leaving Taz perplexed as to why they left him.
Taz now lives outside in a habitat next to the house. It is situated so he can see his cat pals when they are out on the back porch of the house. The porch was built for the house cats. Taz is very affectionate. He never turns down a good petting. He would allow you to do it for hours. He also has plenty of toys to play with. Taz is very possessive of his" stuff". He might let a human touch his things, but he keeps a watchful eye so the shifty human doesn't run off with it. A fox would, for sure.
Foxes truly are special animals. They are very intelligent, sensitive and much aware of their environment. "Smart as a fox"; the old cliché' couldn't be more accurate. In a way, a fox is like a cross between a cat and a dog. Granted, he is in the canid family, but he climbs like a cat.
Felids and Friends, doesn't advocate owning a fox for a pet. A fox requires more attention than a dog. They have to be caged for their own protection and they can't play with your friends. They bite! It takes a very dedicated person to take care of a fox. If you are lucky enough to have one, you will experience a true animal spirit. You will enjoy their sensitivity and their antics. They are a delight to be around. We feel very blessed that Taz lives in the Felids and Friends Neighborhood. He is here to stay forever.
Taz in his summer fur. He sheds his fur in the summer and grows it back to a beautiful thick red coat in the winter.
How could Taz be guilty of these deeds?
Many native cultures consider the fox a special animal. The Native Americans considered them important "medicine" and the many Indian nations had stories about the fox.
"The folklore of many countries tells of the fox's ability to shape-shift into a human being, usually an attractive young woman. For example, the tale of the "mysterious house-keeper" is found with slight variation among the American Indians, The Inuit of Greenland and Labrador, and the Koriak of Northeastern Siberia.
The story tells of a hunter living alone who comes home at night to find his house clean and his supper cooking. Eventually he finds out that every morning a vixen (female fox) comes in to his home, takes off her skin, to become a beautiful woman. He marries her and all goes well until he complains of a musky odor in the house. Her feelings hurt, the wife puts on the fox skin, and turns back into a fox and runs away." ("The World of the Fox" Rebecca L. Grambo, Sierra Club 1995, page 70)
The Hungry Fox and the Boastful Suitor
One day Fox was out walking along. He'd been hunting but had no luck. It was a long time since he'd eaten. His stomach was growling so loudly he could hardly hear anything else. Suddenly he realized someone was coming singing a song. Quicker than the flick of a wren's tail Fox leaped off the path and crouched down on his belly in the bushes. Louder and louder grew the song. Then Fox saw something begin to appear over the crest of the hill. It was a single heron feather. Fox moved his front paws, getting ready to leap out at the bird he thought the feather was attached to. But as the feather lifted higher and higher, he realized it was no bird at all. It was the feather attached to the top of a gustoweh, the head-dress of an Iroquois man whose face now bobbed into sight as he came over the hill on horseback.
If he sees me, Fox thought, I can forget about my hunger forever! It was well known that fox skins were prized by the Iroquois. Fox tried to make himself smaller than a mouse, hoping he wouldn't be seen.
Closer and closer the man came. He was wearing fine clothes and Fox could hear the words of man's song very clearly now. It was a boasting song.
"No one is braver than Heron Feather," sang the young man.
"And I should know that for I am he. No one wears finer clothing. No one is a better fisherman. If you doubt this, look and see."
He was on his way to the lodge of a young woman he had been watching for some time. He was going to try to impress her and her mother so that the girl would ask him to marry her. His song and his fine clothing were part of the plan.
But Fox was no longer listening to Heron Feather's song. He was not seeing those fine clothes. All of Fox's attention was on what he was smelling. Fish. That large bag hanging from the young man's blanketroll was full of fish! Fox's mouth watered and his tongue hung out. It had been such a long time since he had eaten fish. His fears left him. The young man on the horse passed him by, but Fox's thoughts were far ahead.
Yes, Fox said to himself. I think there is a way. As quickly as he could, he ran along through the woods keeping out of sight of the road. Soon he was ahead of the Iroquois man. Just around a bend, Fox laid himself down by the edge of the path. He closed his eyes and opened his mouth so that his tongue hung out in the dirt. Not moving a muscle, he waited. Soon he began to near Heron Feather's boasting song.
Heron Feather was so intent on his singing, trying to find a few more words to describe just how fine he looked in his new white buckskin breechclout that he almost rode right past Fox. When he saw Fox out of the corner of his eye, he stopped. "Enh," he said, "what is this?" He climbed down from his horse.
"Kweh, a dead fox?" Picking up a long stick he carefully prodded the side of the animal. It did not move. "Nyoh," he said, "it is surely dead." He bent down and looked at it closely. It was skinny, but the pelt was in fine condition. He picked it up by the tail. "Hmm, it has not been dead for long. It only stinks a little bit." When he said that, Fox's mouth opened a little and his lips curled back from his teeth, but Heron Feather did not notice.
"Hmm," Heron Feather said, "maybe I should skin it out now." When he said that one of Fox's eyes twitched a little, but Heron Feather did not notice. "Neh," he went on, "I should not skin him out now. If I do I may dirty my fine new clothes. I will just take him with me." He walked back to his horse and began to unlace the bag. "Weh-yoh," he smiled, "when Swaying Reed's mother sees this fox I caught she will know I am a great hunter. Then she will surely allow her daughter to bring me marriage bread." He dropped the fox in with his fish, laced the bag shut and climbed back on his horse. Soon he was singing again. This time it was a song about how great a hunter Heron Feather was.
Inside the bag Fox lay still for a few minutes. Then he began to gnaw at the side. When he had made a hole large enough, he began to drop the fish out, one by one. Finally, when all the fish were gone, he made the hole larger and jumped out to freedom and his best meal in many days.
Too busy with his singing, Heron Feather did not even notice. He rode all the way to the village where Swaying Reed lived. He stopped in front of her mother's lodge and sat there on his horse, singing til many people had gathered around. He sang of his beautiful clothes, of the many fish he caught (he actually had traded his mother's beaded moccasins for them), of all the animals he hunted and trapped. Swaying Reed and her mother came out of the lodge and watched as he reached back for his bag. Now he would show them what a good provider he was!
When he held up the bag and saw that it was empty with a hole in the bottom he stopped singing. Turning around, he rode silently away. He learned that day that boasting songs do not make a person great. It is one thing to find a fox and another skin it.
Scientific Name Vulpes Vulpes
Gestation 60 to 65 days
Life Span 6 years in the wild and 13 years in captivity.
Weight 5-9 kg.
Range North America, Europe, Africa, South America, Asia.
Communication Aggressive yapping, barks, howl, wimpers, screams and scents.
Diet (in the wild) Small hoofed animals, rabbits, rodents, birds, insects, fruits.
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