Soddy-Daisy’s Arctic fox shows why keeping wildlife as pets can be a problem

Final week, Wildlife Rescue in Chattanooga acquired a name from a Suddy Daisy girl who noticed what she thought was a silver fox scratching at her again door, attempting to get in.

“That is clearly not a standard factor for a fox to do,” mentioned Juniper Russo, CEO of the group, often known as For Fox Sake.

Russo mentioned the animal – a non-native arctic fox – had been acquired by somebody within the space as a pet.

The fox, dubbed by rehab specialists Cooper, did not have a microchip, so Russo posted photographs of the fox on social media to see if she might observe down its authorized proprietor.

The put up finally reached Cooper’s latest proprietor, who mentioned the fox was acquired from a buddy who was neglecting the animal.

Cooper’s caretaker constructed a rooster wire enclosure to make use of as a short-term dwelling for the fox, who escaped and made his approach into the yard of a neighbor, who known as For Fox Sake.

The interim ranger agreed with Russo that transferring Cooper to a reserve was within the curiosity of the fox, and Russo was capable of finding a long-term dwelling for Cooper on the Unique Pit Wonderland, a Knoxville wildlife facility.

“We work so carefully collectively, as a result of we get calls so typically about unique pets, and there is a variety of overlap between what we two do,” Russo mentioned by telephone from Unique Pet Wonderland.

(Learn extra: Wildlife rehabilitation specialists in Chattanooga assist take care of animals in want)

Photo Photograph contributed by Juniper Russo/Cooper, an arctic fox discovered outdoors its environment final week in Soddy-Daisy, has a brand new dwelling at Unique Pet Wonderland in Knoxville, Tenn.

Any captive-bred wildlife—even when it is native to the world—cannot be legally rehabilitated and launched into the wild in Tennessee, so Russo typically turns to Unique Pet Wonderland when on the lookout for long-term properties for captive-bred wildlife, she mentioned. .

It isn’t unusual for individuals who purchase a fox as a pet to later determine they’re unable to deal with the animal, and Unique Pet Wonderland founder Lynsey Hembrey mentioned in a telephone interview that she took seven such foxes as a non-public proprietor earlier than she began the sanctuary in 2019.

“The necessity was too nice so that you can do this as a person,” mentioned Hembree, who now lives greater than 30 foxes on the sanctuary. “There are extra folks getting these animals yearly, and more often than not, they do not know what to do with them. Yearly, there are an increasing number of quit.”

Russo mentioned For Fox Sake additionally will get about 30 calls a 12 months from individuals who have “kidnapped” younger wild foxes to maintain as pets earlier than realizing that conserving foxes is harder than they thought.

She mentioned animals that weren’t bred in captivity can proceed to stay in For Fox Sake and function academic animals, be positioned in a zoo, or rehabilitated and launched into the wild if they’re nonetheless very younger.

A lot of the foxes in Unique Pet Wonderland are polar foxes, which Hembree mentioned are authorized to personal in Tennessee with no allow. She mentioned native species, together with pink and grey foxes, require a allow, and permits are straightforward to acquire.

She mentioned she’s working with officers from the Tennessee Wildlife Sources Company to search out methods to scale back the rising variety of pet foxes that want new properties as soon as house owners notice they lack the sources to take care of them.

“We now have all the time mentioned that the majority the foxes that folks purchase within the spring, when they’re born, is not going to see the subsequent spring with their proprietor,” Hembrey mentioned, including the typical lifespan of the foxes through which they stay. The sanctuary after the give up of its house owners is 212 days. “It is an enormous, rising downside for an animal that’s rather more tough to take care of than a canine or a cat, or perhaps a small unique animal. There’s a lot that goes into their care.”

What dominates most fox house owners, Rousseau mentioned, is the scent of the animals.

“Each arctic foxes and pink foxes stink within the excessive sky, and there’s no potential approach to do away with the scent,” she mentioned.

Foxes have glands that produce a robust musky scent, and their urine smells like musky, Russo mentioned.

“When they’re stored indoors, they have an inclination to establish the whole lot they suppose is theirs, together with the proprietor’s mattress and rugs,” she mentioned.

Russo mentioned that foxes can grow to be extra aggressive once they attain puberty and are sometimes not as lovable as their house owners would love.

“It wasn’t their fault,” she mentioned. “It is only a wild animal that is not actually outfitted to stay in a human dwelling and be handled like a cat or a canine.”

For Fox Sake and Unique Pet Wonderland are non-profit organizations. For extra info go to forfoxsakewildlife.com or exoticpetwonderland.org.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.