Can Foxes Legally Be Pets? Is It Even A Good Idea?

Written by Peralee Knight
Updated: September 18, 2023
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Foxes are gorgeous animals, and their lively personalities and adorable antics are loved by many people worldwide. Social media users post and follow a massive amount of content featuring foxes, including ones kept as pets. But can foxes legally be pets, and is it even a good idea? 

baby fennec fox sleeping

Foxes are beautiful, energetic, and playful. However, having a pet fox isn’t legal everywhere, and may be restricted in some locations.


Is It Legal To Have Foxes As Pets?

Owning a pet fox is legal in some places, but it is not legal everywhere. Even in locations where a state or country allows pet foxes, there may be places where it is restricted. It is important to find out the exact laws in your location before trying to own a pet fox. 

Where Is It Legal To Own A Pet Fox?

Whether it is legal or not for a person to own a pet fox depends on the country or location that individual lives in. Therefore, the answer to whether owning a fox is okay or not is both yes and no!

There are many areas where owning a pet fox is perfectly legal. In the United States, these laws vary by state. In other countries where having a pet fox is legal, there may be locations within the country where they are banned or restricted as well,

On the other hand, there are countries where the ownership of foxes is completely banned and even considered a crime. There are also countries and locations where some fox species are allowed, but some aren’t.

Any fox species that are or become endangered or threatened are illegal to own. This is the case for any animal classified as endangered and applies to most countries worldwide. 

Red Marble Fox (Vulpes vulpes) Sits With Cocked Head

Some species of fox are banned where they may have a negative impact on other animals in the area.

©Geoffrey Kuchera/

The U.S. States That Allow Ownership Of Foxes

Some states in the U.S. allow unrestricted ownership of foxes. Other states ban all species of foxes as pets or may ban certain fox species. 

States that allow the ownership of pet foxes are: 

All Fox Species Allowed: 

Allowed, But With Restrictions Or Permits:

Countries Where Ownership Of Foxes Is Banned

Types of Wild Dogs

Foxes are illegal to own in some countries due to the risk of rabies. Entire native populations of the Red fox need to be culled or vaccinated for rabies in some locations.

© Chua

In some countries owning a pet fox is legal. In other countries, it is illegal and may even be considered a criminal offense. There are countries where owning foxes is restricted to certain species or banned in some areas of the country. 

The countries where owning a pet fox is illegal are

  • Canada-Illegal in most Provinces
  • Ireland-Illegal 
  • Israel-Illegal
  • Oceana (Australia, New Guinea, and surrounding territories)-Illegal as of 2015 for new owners. In these areas, fox owners that bought their pets before 2015 must obtain a license to keep them.

Countries Where Fox Ownership is restricted: 

  • ItalyRestricted to domestic Russian foxes with documentation
  • France/BelgiumRestricted to owners with an ability certificate (CDC)
  • Austria/Poland/HollandRestricted to Fennec, Arctic, and non-native Red fox species
  • SpainRestricted to Arctic and Red Fox species with Proof Of Obtainment
  • SwitzerlandRestricted to Fennec fox species only
  • Finland Restricted to foxes obtained from a European breeder, with official documentation

Owning Foxes As Pets May Have Legal Limitations

If a state or country allows the ownership of a pet fox, there may be legal stipulations to that ownership. There are limits in some locations for what kind of fox or how many you can legally own. There may be special requirements you must meet to have a pet fox too. 

The most significant reason for restricting the ownership of foxes is the environmental impact.  In the 19th century, the Red fox was introduced in Australia. This introduction had severe consequences and directly contributed to the endangerment and extinction of many native species, causing many countries to impose strict regulations for owning foxes.

Ownership of foxes may be banned in some locations because of the threat of disease should the animal end up in the wild. The most significant threat in this regard is rabies, which foxes have a high likelihood of contracting and spreading to other animals. The entirety of Red fox populations in some locations is even culled and vaccinated for rabies to protect other species.  

There are locations where owning a fox is banned simply for being a nuisance in the community. Foxes are also scavengers and will go to great lengths to find food. They will prey on small pets, raid henhouses for domestic poultry like chickens and ducks, and will forage in human trash bins for leftovers. 

Whether having a pet fox is a good idea or not depends on individual considerations. However, before deciding to get a fox for a pet, it is important to check the laws in your specific area first!

Animals With Camouflage: Arctic Fox

Foxes are beautiful animals and can make an excellent pet for the right owner. However, like any animal, there are pros and cons to having a fox that should be carefully considered before deciding on a pet fox!


What Are The Pros And Cons Of Having A Pet Fox?

Like any pet, foxes have specific needs and requirements you must meet as their owner to care for them properly. This includes weighing the pros and cons of having a fox for a pet to make sure that you and the fox are suited to cohabitate!

What Makes A Fox A Good Pet?

Foxes can make excellent pets and have many qualities that can enrich the lives of the right human companion. Some beneficial qualities of foxes include:

Physical Appearance: Foxes are beautiful animals no matter which species you choose, with striking looks and a wide variety of coloration

Personality: Foxes are lively and playful animals with a lot of energy. Domesticated foxes are affectionate with humans but are also fairly independent as well. 

Trainability: Domestic foxes are able to be litter trained, and harness trained to walk on a leash. They also respond to operant conditioning and positive reinforcement with some time and effort. 

What Are The Challenges Of Owning A Fox? 

While foxes can make great pets, they aren’t the right pet for everyone. There are some challenges to owning a fox, which can include the following: 

Scent– Foxes have a natural musky smell that many people find objectionable. They also scent mark territory by urinating or defecating on floors and objects, which cannot be corrected by training. 

Destructive- Foxes are notorious for tearing apart furniture, carpets, or other items and it is extremely difficult to train them not to. This often requires an owner to have an outdoor enclosure and is one of the reasons foxes are banned in neighborhoods.

Aggression- Foxes can be fickle and wary of other animals and humans and will often bite if intimidated or irritated. They also become aggressive by resource guarding and may attack other pets or people.

Noisy- Foxes are extremely loud, shrill, and vocal animals. They are also nocturnal, and their late-night barks and screams are not for the faint of heart!

Diet- Foxes have specific dietary needs for protein and vitamin supplements. Wild foxes consume a wide variety of foods to stay healthy. Even commercial pet foods with the highest protein aren’t enough to maintain the nutritional needs of a fox. Many pet foods also have grain, which is toxic for foxes. Fox owners must commit to feeding them a highly specialized raw diet.

Ultimately, foxes can be excellent pets for the right owner. But whether having a pet fox is a good idea or not is up to you!

What Happens if a Pet Fox Bites Someone?

red fox on a chair

Pet foxes are considered exotic animals and owners must adhere to special rules.

Image: Mary_wolf88, Shutterstock


Foxes may look like dogs but they are classified as exotic pets – and they are a vector for rabies. Even if your pet fox was purchased at great expense from a reputable breeder if that pet bit someone – even a playful nip that broke the skin – the fox may be removed from your home and may be euthanized. A dog that bites usually has to be quarantined for a period and tested for rabies – a pet fox may not receive that opportunity. As we stressed in the article – it is imperative to know the laws in your area regarding fox ownership before you adopt one as a pet. It is possible to have foxes vaccinated but it may not matter if your local law doesn’t allow for it.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Chill Chillz/

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