All photos: Rylai the fox/Facebook
After being adopted earlier this week, her owner began posting photos and videos online to share with friends and family. Of course, with a face like that, it wasn't long before the tiny kit gained a larger audience when the photos went viral.
Now before you go off and try to adopt your own domesticated fox, be aware that while they can make wonderful companions under the right circumstances, they are not for the average pet lover.
That's because it's only been in the last couple decades that they could even be remotely considered "pets." It was only in the late 1950s that the Soviet Union (and later Russia) began the first domesticated silver fox breeding project in hopes of gaining a better physiological understanding of how domestication develops in canines. Similar fox domestication and breeding projects began in other countries, like the U.S., which is where Rylai comes from.
After decades of selective breeding, these foxes involved in these experiments became remarkably more docile and dog-like than their wild counterparts. However, they still have many, many generations to go until they're as tame as a typical dog or cat.
That's why anyone who is thinking about adopting one (or any kind of exotic pet) needs to do their research and fully consider all the time, money, training and commitment that will be required. Depending on the state, foxes often either require a special permit for ownership or they are straight-up illegal to own.
Because she is just a little baby, Rylai currently spends the vast majority of her day simply sleeping, eating and pooping. Once she gets a bit older, she'll begin exhibiting more rambunctious fox-like behaviors.
As Rylai's human explains, "[Domesticated foxes] need enrichment and attention or they will quickly become bored and destructive. They [are] notorious for being difficult to litter train and stealing all of your favorite trinkets and hiding them."
Luckily for Rylai and her humans, she is already off to a great start with basic obedience training, as seen in the video below:
View this post on InstagramLearning how to sit <3 #smartfox #petfox #foxtraining #whitemarblefox #redfox
A post shared by JAB Canid E&C Center (@jabcecc) on
Despite her exotic and semi-domesticated status, Rylai will never be suited to surviving on her own in the wild. Sure, these special foxes are not as tame as dogs or cats, but due to their selectively bred ancestry, they can also no longer be considered truly "wild" anymore.
"Rylai comes from generations of pet lines, [and] it would be cruel to release her into a world in which she has no chance of surviving," Rylai's owner explains. "Being in a loving pet home is the best possible life that Rylai can have."
While most of us may not be prepared to take on the responsibility for caring for a domesticated fox, it's important to keep in mind there are plenty of animals in shelters around the world looking for forever homes!
Related on MNN:
- Meet Honey Bee, the blind rescue cat that loves to hike
- 'Old Faithful' dogs get their moment in the sun
- Rescue dog beats the odds with unstoppable smile
- Want to see more great photos? Check out MNN's photo blog