Are you wondering if it is legal to own a fox as a pet? Perhaps you’ve just fallen down an internet rabbit hole watching videos of wild or domesticated foxes frolicking in backyards or comically diving into a snowpack headfirst. Their trademark wide smiles and fluffy tales wagging wildly may make you think you’d like to own a pet fox rather than a dog or a cat. But many regions and cities across North America make owning a fox illegal, along with a host of other exotic animals, while other jurisdictions may require a pricey permit to import or own a fox.
Depending on where you live, owning a domesticated fox might be against city bylaws or state or provincial wildlife regulations. Foxes, raccoons, wolves, or other wild animals that make their way into urban centres as cities continue to sprawl outwards with development may seem like an interesting pets to keep at home but domesticating wild animals or importing them from an animal sanctuary isn’t necessarily an easy or legal thing to do.
Fennec foxes for sale
Before you look to buy a Fennec fox, you need to learn about the law. Sorry!
Some of these animals, of course, require special care that most people aren’t prepared or knowledgeable enough to provide on their own. That’s why many cities, towns, states, and provinces restrict the ownership and trade of several animal species despite widespread or even niche interest in their ownership.
Keep in mind that laws are different in Arkansas, New York, Texas, Michigan, Florida, and Canada. Fox ownership is a trend that just seems to keep on growing. Red fox breeders are doing well. Read on to learn about the legality of fox pet ownership. Let’s find out if it’s legal to own a fox in Canada.
Canadian provincial and municipal species restrictions
Canadian provinces and cities regulate what types of animals can be kept as pets within their borders, with some species being outrightly prohibited and others tightly restricted. In British Columbia, the list of “controlled alien species” runs nearly 50 pages and includes everything from poison frogs to giraffes. Under the province’s Wildlife Act, wild foxes cannot be kept as pets, with several species including Fennec foxes falling under the province’s controlled alien species regulations.
Animals on the list include several species of snakes, alligators, primates, and a wide variety of other animals that aren’t native to B.C. and are not categorized as “wildlife,” since they can’t be found in the wild. The regulations only took effect in 2009, seeing the province designating more than “1,000 dangerous animals as controlled alien species because they pose a potential threat to people, property, wildlife and wildlife habitat.”
Learn more about the law:
The province restricts possession, transportation, and breeding of such animals and only allows them with a special permit. The permits are limited to licensed zoos, research and educational facilities, pet stores, rescue organizations, circuses, and film and television productions. The province says the regulation is only the “minimum standard” and that local governments are free to pass bylaws that could impose tighter restrictions than the provincial regulation alone.
Wild animals and the law
The act is enforced by B.C. Conservation Officers, have the authority to both “seize and destroy” animals that fall under the regulations. But for a conservation officer to kill an animal, there must be “strong reasons to do so,” especially if the animal is an “immediate threat to the health and safety of a person.” People caught possessing, breeding, or releasing controlled alien species can face fines and imprisonment. Breeding and releasing carry fines between $2,500 and $250,000 and up to two years in prison. Possessing a restricted animal, meanwhile, carries a fine of up to $100,000 and up to a year in jail.
The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is firmly opposed to keeping exotic and wild animals as pets because they often needlessly suffer in domestic settings because of “their unique physical and emotional needs.”
The province of Alberta also restricts keeping wildlife as pets, requiring a special zoo or research permit for many animal species. Some species can be kept without the need to apply for a permit, but the risk of rabies means that skunks, bats, and raccoons aren’t allowed as pets. Hybrid species of wolves and dogs don’t require permits under provincial regulations, as well as some exotic hybrid cat species including Savannah, Bengal, and ocelot-cat hybrids, though they need to carry a certain designation from the International Cat Association.
Speak to a red fox breeder
The City of Toronto has its own municipal regulations around keeping wildlife as pets and fines people $240 if they’re found keeping a prohibited animal. The city restricts the ownership of foxes, coyotes, and wolves, as well as hyenas, kangaroos, skunks, otters, weasels, and several species of monkeys and primates.
If you live in Toronto, you’re also not allowed to have ducks or geese as pets, along with other birds including turkeys, flamingos, and penguins. Like many cities in recent years, though, Toronto has loosened the rules for keeping chickens as part of a pilot project. Torontonians are also not allowed to keep alligators or crocodiles as pets, nor are they allowed snakes larger than three metres or lizards larger than two metres.
Also in Ontario, the City of Hamilton has a lengthy list of animals prohibited as pets within city limits. You can’t legally have a fox as a pet in Hamilton, and they’re listed along with wolves, bears, tigers, cougars, lions, and several other carnivorous animals. Like most cities, Hamilton also doesn’t allow people to have anteaters, primates, armadillos, elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, or sloths as pets either. To keep certain types of predatory birds, such as eagles or hawks, one requires a provincial falconry licence.
You can speak to a fox breeder to learn more about the laws in your area. Or of course, you can speak to an animal lawyer. Find out if it’s legal to own a fox before committing to one.
Pet owners need to know about private possession laws before buying a fox. You should also learn about the different species of foxes, do you know about the differences between the grey fox, fetters, and Vulpes. Do you know which makes good pets?
Legal to own a fox as a pet conclusion
In North America, cities, states, and provinces restrict the ownership of foxes and other animals as pets due to their wild, unpredictable behaviour, and their ability to spread diseases like rabies. Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in North America and Europe don’t support the ownership of foxes as pets, even as certain species face population decline and other challenges to their ultimate survival.
The laws are going to be different according to state laws. The laws of North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, and Utah will all be different.
There also might be different laws for different types of exotic pets. There might be different laws for wolfdogs, swift foxes, mink, gray foxes, chimpanzees, bobcats, ferrets, big cats, and arctic foxes. You can contact a lawyer to find out if owning foxes is legal in your area.
While foxes and other exotic or wild animals may look like fun animals to have around the house on viral internet videos and make for good reality television, the reality is that the responsibilities associated with their care are not small or trivial, nor are the dangers and difficulties should their wild side take over.
Don’t assume foxes are good house pets. Do you know if they even use a litter box? Or do you need to walk them? Or do they need to live in an outdoor enclosure? Try and find other fox owners online and ask for advice. There are many different native species of foxes, so find the right one for you (assuming it’s legal to own a fox near you.)