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, referred to 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 images of the fox on social media to see if she may observe down its authorized proprietor.

The publish ultimately reached Cooper’s latest proprietor, who mentioned the fox was acquired from a pal who was neglecting the animal.

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

The interim ranger agreed with Russo that shifting Cooper to a reserve was within the curiosity of the fox, and Russo was capable of finding a long-term residence 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 number 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 residence at Unique Pet Wonderland in Knoxville, Tenn.

Any captive-bred wildlife—even when it is native to the realm—cannot be legally rehabilitated and launched into the wild in Tennessee, so Russo typically turns to Unique Pet Wonderland when searching 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 resolve they’re unable to care for the animal, and Unique Pet Wonderland founder Lynsey Hembrey mentioned in a telephone interview that she took seven such foxes as a personal 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 individuals getting these animals yearly, and more often than not, they do not know what to do with them. Yearly, there are increasingly more quit.”

Russo mentioned For Fox Sake additionally will get about 30 calls a yr from individuals who have “kidnapped” younger wild foxes to maintain as pets earlier than realizing that maintaining 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 and not using a allow. She mentioned native species, together with purple 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 homeowners notice they lack the assets to take care of them.

“We now have at all times mentioned that the majority the foxes that individuals 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 homeowners is 212 days. “It is an enormous, rising drawback for an animal that is rather more tough to take care of than a canine or a cat, or perhaps a small unique animal. There’s a lot to care for.”

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

“Each arctic foxes and purple foxes stink within the excessive sky, and there’s no potential option to eliminate the scent,” she mentioned.

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

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

Russo mentioned that foxes can change into extra aggressive after they attain puberty and are sometimes not as lovable as their homeowners would really like.

“It wasn’t their fault,” she mentioned. “It is only a wild animal that is not actually geared up to stay in a human residence 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.