With city-dwelling foxes on the rise, it’s perhaps not surprising that more of us are encountering these beautiful animals on a day-to-day basis. However, one American woman has gotten closer to a fox than most of us ever will by making one her pet. And she’s since learned that, adorable as they may be, foxes are born for the wild and aren’t easy to domesticate.
Juniper is a red fox, the kind often seen roaming our towns, cities and countryside on a regular basis. However, she was not born in the wild. The little kit was actually bred to be a pet, and that’s how her human mom came to have her.
Indeed, Juniper was adopted when she was still small and soon settled into her new home. And with the help of her big brother, a husky named Moose, she learned how to act like a proper pet – almost. Like many canines, for example, she enjoys walks in the park and relaxing on her owner’s big bed.
Furthermore, Juniper’s owner decided that the vixen cub was just too adorable to keep to herself – as a result, then, she decided to set up an Instagram page to document Juniper’s foxy adventures. However, there was also a more important purpose to the heartwarming posts. “I want to use my Instagram to be an educational resource,” Juniper’s human mom explained.
As it turned out, then, Juniper’s owner revealed that the little fox on her hands has quite the mischievous side. In fact, Juniper loves nothing more than destroying furniture and stealing Moose’s favorite chair. However, it was hard for her family to stay mad at the vulpine mayhem-maker, as she seems to have a smile permanently slapped across her furry face.
Thanks to her cheeky grin, moreover, Juniper earned a reputation as “#thehappiestfox.” Indeed, she eventually began to build up quite the online following. Then, in 2016 her owner posted a video of the fox mistaking some crisp bed sheets as snow. The kit joyously leaped into the air and pawed at the white mass – before tilting her head in confusion at her dry paws.
And that was when Juniper’s fame went stratospheric, with the video soon amassing over 300,000 views on YouTube. Juniper’s story was also picked up by several news outlets, which gushed over her tame temperament and lovable face. What’s more, within weeks the fox had acquired more than a million Instagram followers.
But, while Juniper may have been undeniably cute, her owner was keen to point out that foxes don’t make perfect pets. “I am not attempting to encourage anyone to get a fox as a pet, but the reality is that they are sold as pets,” she posted in a February 2016 Instagram update. “They require permits to own and are illegal in most places,” she added.
“They’re skittish, they smell horrid and they pee on everything,” she continued. “I hope that my posts can at least inform of the actuality that is living with such a rambunctious little life and stop the misinformation that will ultimately lead to foxes being the novelty pet.”⠀
And perhaps down to the exposure now afforded her pet, Juniper’s owner decided to continue to teach people about the reality of owning a fox. For example, foxes are nearly impossible to house train since their instinct is to dig – ostensibly, to hide food. So in a house, anything they can dig their claws into is fair game.
“Once we found a whole filet of fish buried under our carpet,” Juniper’s owner revealed. She added, “It’s important that she has her outdoor enclosure, somewhere that she can just not give a fox. She has mulch and dirt to play-dig in outside, and we’re going to get her a sandbox this spring for more fox fun.”
And Juniper hasn’t just reserved her claws and teeth for inanimate objects, either – she has also been known to lash out at her family as well. Indeed, although her owner has admitted that she is usually loving, Juniper has dished out the occasional bite every now and then.
On top of this, Juniper’s owner said that foxes smell something rotten. That’s partly down to the fact that the animals use a scent gland at the base of their tails to signal to other animals and mark their territory. They are also prone to peeing everywhere, and their urine happens to be extremely pungent. “Their urine and feces smell like skunk mixed with ammonia. There is no way to ‘de-scent’ a fox,” her owner said.
And a sweet-smelling home wasn’t the only thing that Juniper’s owner had to give up. Since foxes are unable to be inoculated against rabies, for example, they cannot be looked after in kennels. This means that vacations are now a thing of the past. Furthermore, they must also be fed raw meat. Fox ownership, then, is not for the faint-hearted.
And for the most part, Juniper’s followers were intrigued to learn what owning a house fox was really like. Still, Juniper’s owner also faced some backlash for keeping a fox as a pet. Some people even called for Juniper to be released back into the wild. But the fox’s owner also took the time to address these concerns.
“Juniper cannot be released into the wild,” she replied. “Releasing her at any point of her life would not have only been illegal for me, but it would have also meant death for her, as 50-plus years of captive ancestors have diminished an array of her natural instincts. While I agree that wildlife should stay in the wild, I also think that you should be fully [educated] on a situation before placing judgment.”
However, while caring for Juniper may be hard work, her owner wouldn’t have it any other way. “Juniper brings me so much happiness,” she admitted. And, what’s more, the little fox is now delighting thousands of people around the world each and every day.
“Some of you let me know that she makes your day or helps when you’re feeling down, and it’s so amazing to me that not only does she do that for me, but she’s doing that for you too,” Juniper’s mom revealed. “You’re all so very kind and wonderful. I’m thrilled that she’s now sharing her happy face all over the world and that we’re all reconnecting with nature.”
And the now one-year-old Juniper is in fact making progress; for example, she doesn’t mark her territory as often anymore. “You can’t smell Juniper in our clothes, and only occasionally will you smell her in the house these days,” her mom said in a September 2016 Instagram update.
Of course, the furry four-legged vixen continues to delight her fans with her winning smile and endearing antics. And since getting a pet fox is not recommended, thankfully Juniper also provides more than enough insight on the experience to compensate. Indeed, keeping tabs on Juniper virtually allows her fans all the joys and none of the trouble.