"Arctic Marble" Fox
The beautiful "arctic marble" fox is an animal that is bred and sold solely for profit. This "man-made" coloration does not normally occur in the wild, and is a product of human intervention."Ozzie" (at left), an arctic marble (red) fox, was not born in the wild. "Roxy" (at right) is another variation of color.
The "arctic marble" fox is a color phase (or specially produced mutation) of the red fox, by most reports. Some believe, however, that this coloration was a mutation that occurred at a silver fox ranch in Norway, first appearing in 1945. Regardless of its origins, the unusual color is not one that occurs in the wild.
Ozzie joined the BPAS family in August 2011. Only about six months of age, he had already passed through multiple hands when he finally found his 'forever home'. He was first noticed by police in Elkhart, IN when reportedly left on the front porch of a home without care. Police confirmed reports of neglect, which apparently went on for days, before confiscating the animal and taking him temporarily to a domestic animal shelter.
Once in the shelter, due to risk of disease and in need of special care, the animal was relocated to a DNR-licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Not wishing to keep the animal long-term, the rehabber contacted Black Pine requesting permanent placement.
Roxy joined the other three foxes at BPAS in November 2012. A couple of months earlier we had received an email from a desperate woman looking for a solution to her rapidly worsening situation with housing a five-month-old "domestic" female fox living in her home. Her college-age son fell in love with the baby fox while working in the city during the summer and made the unfortunate decision to buy the animal from the breeder he'd met. Clearly not well advised by the breeder, or perhaps not willing to listen to the realities, the young man failed to realize this animal would require adequate outdoor space, enrichment, veterinary care, and more to thrive. These were things he could not provide.
The young man's mother found herself stuck with Roxy when her son returned to college in the fall. Living in a subdivision, within six short weeks Roxy had "pretty much trashed" the woman's home. Lacking an outdoor space to build a habitat, and in violation of local ordinances to keep the animal, she was on a mission to find Roxy a new home. At this very time, Black Pine was in the midst of building a new fox habitat for three other foxes (Ozzie, Malibu and Fiero) rescued over the previous year, and making an introduction of the animals to one another. The prospects of a fourth fox proved to be unnerving for staff, worried about the animals' ability to live peacefully together, let alone with yet another "unknown" animal. Timing was just not working in our - or Roxy's - favor.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and Roxy's dedicated owner notified Black Pine that she had found a local refuge. Everyone was relieved! Over the next couple of weeks Black Pine's resident foxes were placed in their new home, additional dens and hiding places were added, and the three proved to get along well, even playing and beginning to enjoy one another. Black Pine continued to communicate with Roxy's owner in the following weeks, helping to advise regarding habitat design elements, diet, and more.
Then, in mid-October, Roxy's owner contacted Black Pine again. Devastated by the realities of Roxy's new home, her owner described the zoo as very small and underfunded. They had taken in Roxy as a "favor". Roxy's owner felt the animal was "truly miserable". She was in a small caged area with five other foxes, only one shelter and one hollowed out log, a floor of limestone rocks. There was "nothing natural about it". She took Roxy back to her home and built a temporary outdoor habitat, and began looking for a better solution. By this time, Black Pine's staff were confident Roxy would do well with the other three residents, and so she has!
Foxes have grown in popularity within the exotic pet trade because of their beauty, curious and playful nature, and similarity to dogs. They are, however, very smelly and will continuously scent mark their home by urinating and defecating often and in obvious places. They are often destructive and skittish, nervous animals, so do not do well in people's homes around other high-energy animals, or children. Foxes often kill cats, too, so can pose a danger to both fellow "pets" and keepers.
"Ozzie" photo credit: ©Karine Aigner/karineaigner.com
InfoBox - Arctic Marble Fox
Status: Does not exist in the wild; captive-bred only.
Diet: Beef, venison, poultry, fruit, vegetables, dog food.
Life span: 10 to 15 years in captivity.
Weight: 6 to 20 pounds.
Native habitat: N/A