Pet Foxes: What ever happened to the domestication of foxes experiement?

I heard in Russia, Scientists domesticated the Silver Fox, through selective breeding.

So why aren’t these at available from my local fox breeder? One would think these would sell better than healthy King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppies.

Are these going to be available at a pet store near us? Or just a footnote of zoology?

I really want of them (if rabies free). Any chance?

(in other words the serious question here is, are these ever going to go public, if not, why? They can’t be worse than wolf hybrids or, God help us, ferrets)

When the Soviet Union fell apart, so did the Silver Fox domestication and breeding program. As of the late 1990s, they were down to 100 animals. They’ve been limping along since then and do sell them, but the only place is in Novosibirsk, Siberia. Supposedly, there’s an outfit called Sibfox that brings them to the US, but I haven’t really found any info on them.

It does not seem like breeding stock is sufficient to “bring them to a pet store near you.” If you are serious about aquiring a domesticated fox from Russia, bear in mind they’re going to come with unusual expenses, like uncommon foods and exotic-animal vets.

Do you accept Google searches in lieu of Wikipedia cites? They are for sale, albeit at exorbitant prices (one link said $3700).

Remember that buying any animal fills a slot that could have saved the life of homeless animal, and that for-profit commercial dealers are “fox mills,” (or they will be outcompeted and immediately replaced by mills) no better than puppy mills.

Also in the US, a domesticated Silver Fox would be an invasive species and probably an exotic pet; the woes of the exotic pet trade are well known.

All in all, it might be cheaper, more morally satisfactory, and more entertaining to pick up a cute stranger at a furry convention. :slight_smile:

Edited for bizarre coincidence: someone named “Pat Fox” just walked past my desk as I hit “send.”

From what I have heard, although the domesticated foxes are very friendly, and in many ways would make delightful pets, they stink abominably.

I don’t think there are any “fox mills”. So far as I can tell, the only place that sells them is the one location in Russia that’s selling off the results of the famous Soviet era breeding experiment of continue to fund the research.

I don’t see how they’d be anymore of an invasive species then domesticated cats and dogs are. And IIRC, the breeders only sell neutered animals, so its not like your going to have to worry about it escaping and founding an invasive colony of half-foxes.

And the problems of the “exotic pet trade” are largely because the animals involved aren’t domesticated, which wouldn’t be the case here.

But yea, what other people said, the reason you don’t see more of them is because there’s only one source, it sells them for something like 7,000 a pup, and if your in the States, you also have to get it from the former USSR to the US.

I read a super-cool article about the facility in Slate or something awhile back. It was very similar to this one from 2010, but updated. Fascinating stuff:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2010/09/06/mans-new-best-friend-a-forgotten-russian-experiment-in-fox-domestication/

Russian silver foxes are apparently mostly bred from originally imported American stock ;). They have always been particularly popular as a fur animal in Russia and the Far East, with the result that most silver pelts taken in NA were exported to Russia and China in the 19th century, where they commanded higher prices. Hence the Russian interest in breeding them.

Silver foxes are just melanistic versions of our regular red foxes, the good old circumpolar Vulpes vulpes. They occur naturally in the wild at a reasonable rate depending on locale, but in the case of the farmed fur animals they have been selected for their pelt over generations and thus tend to breed largely true.