THE RED FOX
Meet Mikey ( short for Michael J ! ), our new red fox pup.
Excuse me. Did you say Red Fox?
He doesn’t look red, does he? And he’s not going to turn red later. Red foxes come in different colors like red, brown, black, and silver but they all have one thing in common-- a white tip on the end of their tail. Well, maybe more than one thing. As puppies, or “kits” as they are also called, they are about as cute as it gets and as adults they’re absolutely beautiful.
And apparently a fox is a fox is a fox. When red foxes first meet, even though they weren’t raised together and have never seen each other before, they literally almost die of excitement overload, fluffy white-tipped tails wagging in a blur and making their fox happiness noise, which I can’t even pretend to describe.
This is exactly what happened when Mikey fox met Fire fox.
Fire is our sweet adult female red fox and she loves everyone. Every person, every animal. I always say she has no appropriate relationships because when walked on a leash she rolls over on her back wagging her tail and whining in front of the mountain lion cage. “Come play with me, Pirate.” Not a good idea, Fire. Fire loves Australian Shepherds and was raised by our Aussie dog Hopi. When Hopi passed away Fire moved on to love again with Aussie dog, Star, as her new playmate.
How did we get Mikey? Where did he come from?
Well, it was a normal day at the wildlife center for me in June 2017. Just minding my own business answering one rescue call after another, usually regarding an orphaned or injured squirrel or opossum, when a call from Fish and Wildlife came in.
“We have a litter of foxes. Can you take one?”
The foxes were in Sacramento but we met halfway in Bakersfield and there I got the whole crazy backstory.
Foxes are illegal to keep as pets in California but that didn’t stop certain people living here from breeding foxes and then trying to sell them on the internet. When Fish and Wildlife got wind of the activity they gave a call pretending to be interested in a purchase and when they showed up at the house in uniforms with badges well….busted was the word.
There were 7 pups and they were in bad shape. Foxes are susceptible to many of the same diseases as our dogs and cats so Fish and Wildlife staff cared for them and treated them for internal parasites, fleas and mange and vaccinated them for distemper and the parvo virus. With the proper diet and TLC they all miraculously pulled through. And eventually all found good homes in licensed animal facilities.
One of them was particularly friendly and I said, “Then he’s the one for us. He’ll be a perfect education animal for our outreach programs.”
Mikey slept in his carrier the entire way home and who could blame him. But nothing like a red fox mom substitute to make you sit up in bed. Upon first sighting the tail wagging and whining began and hasn’t stopped since. The first day it was pretty cute because Fire has a swing which is her favorite spot in the enclosure. In her old age she now spends much of the day napping and relaxing on her personal hammock and Mikey , uncoordinated puppy that he is, couldn’t quite figure out how to get up there with her. It was making him crazy. But on the second day he had devised a plan and could walk from the shelf along the midline metal bar of the enclosure and then “jump”. Fire growls a little at this invasion of her private island but she’s an understanding mom and Mikey has now won his place at the top.
I was right, by the way, when I guessed he would be good at outreach. His first program was at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles where he wowed everyone posing (and napping on stage) as a modern day dire wolf.
We’re happy in every way to have him with us. Right now…and for a lifetime.
If you’d like to meet Mikey up close and personal you can enjoy a private tour of the wildlife center, sign up for our on-site class “Clicker training with a fox” or schedule your own personal outreach educational program.