Juniper, the fox, is a growing social media sensation, giving people a glimpse into life with a pet fox.
A tame red fox kept as a pet, Juniper captures hearts with her adorable smile, mischievous hijinks, and her love of Moose, her dog companion, and best friend.
According to her owners, owning a fox is a dream for many people, but it's certainly not something to be taken lightly.
Meet Juniper the Fox
Juniper is not a rescue pet, nor was she a wild fox orphan found in the woods. She was bred from domesticated foxes raised on fur farms and was adopted as a little fox kit by Jessika Coker.
The most famous case of selective breeding for domesticated red foxes began at The Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Soviet Russia in the 1950s. The ranched foxes were used for their pelts.
But just because humans raised her from a young age doesn't mean she acts like a domestic dog; she's distinctly a fox, with all of their quirks and no genetic differences from her wild cousins.
But Juniper loves her parents and, more importantly, she loves her boyfriend, Moose. He's a six-year-old Australian Shepherd, Malamute mix, who tolerates everything Juniper does to him.
When foxes "own" something, they like to put their butts on them. Moose is sat on quite often. Juniper isn't the only North American Red Fox in the family. Fig is a big part of Juniper's life, and the furry influencers have amassed quite the following on Instagram.
They also have]scaly friends and two small sugar gliders, Petunia and Peach.
Over 3 million animal lovers follow the pair of tame foxes and their friends on the social media platform.
What Are Foxes Like?
Foxes kept as pets in the house are known to bond very closely with their owners and tend to be wary of strangers. With their human parents, they can be quite affectionate and playful.
They are adorable creatures who can keep you entertained for hours with their antics. From jumping on the bed to pouncing on anything that moves, they are certainly cute.
But there are plenty of drawbacks to owning a fox. They have a significant, musky smell. They cannot be de-scented, so the smell is something fox owners learn to live with. They can be housebroken to an extent, but they also like to mark "their" objects by peeing on them, which is a strong odor that is near impossible to get out.
The red fox (Vulpes Vulpes), unlike other mammals, hears low-frequency sounds very well. It can hear small animals digging underground! The fox stalks its prey, much like a house cat. It gets as close as it can and then pounces and chases its prey. The fox harnesses the earth's magnetic field to hunt.
So exotic pet owners need to be prepared as they are primarily nocturnal but venture out a little during the day!
Foxes are known to be friendly and curious. They play among themselves and with other animals like cats and dogs do. They are very dog-like! A domestic fox is docile to people.
And they really do have a lot in common with house cats. Foxes are the only member of the dog family that can climb trees! They also make 40 different sounds. Their scream is thought to be pretty startling, though! With that in mind, imagine what a domesticated dog may think if they live with a pet red fox!
Dogs are often confused or antagonized by the presence of foxes, as they are very different species. It can be challenging to introduce a fox into a home where dogs live, and their natural instinct will be to run.
There are 37 species of foxes. The best known of them are Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Fennec Fox, and the Gray Fox. The most common pet fox is the Fennec Fox.
Other foxes that are not as popular as pets? The red fox and arctic fox (a.k.a. pet silver foxes) are not commonly seen as pets.
What Does it Cost to Own a Fox?
Juniper's parents warn potential fox owners about the extensive needs of these animals and the significant expenses it takes to keep them. Common costs include:
At least $200 a month for food: Foxes do not do well on all-kibble diets. They require a good deal of raw meat, eggs, and vegetables. Foxes need a nutrient called taurine to survive, which is found in animal tissues. Juniper gets fed a diverse diet of venison, chicken, turkey, beef, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
Around $2,500 for enclosure and enrichment: People cannot keep foxes entirely indoors. They need a great deal of outdoor space to roam and dig. If cooped up in a bedroom, they can become very stressed, destructive, and even aggressive.
Juniper's family created an outdoor enclosure that is dig-proof and has a roof so she cannot escape. Her habitat has trees for her to climb on, dens, an underground tube, and plenty of room to run.
Somewhere between $150-400 for vet visits: Your average small animal vet will not care for foxes. You will need to take your fox to an exotic animal or wild animal specialist, which can be significantly more expensive.
Pet owners should vaccinate foxes with the canine rabies vaccines, and fox kits should be 16 weeks old before they're vaccinated for rabies. If the fox bites someone, the public health department won't recognize the vaccine in most cases, and they will treat the fox as unvaccinated. It doesn't mean the vaccine doesn't work in these species; it just hasn't been tested and shown to be effective.
Foxes can be wonderful house pets like Juniper is, but they require exceptional owners who understand the unique temperaments of these woodland creatures. With the right environment and lots of patience, they can be loving and affectionate companions. Also, make sure you check with your state laws because they are still considered exotic animals and may require a permit.
In fact, some states have banned exotic pet ownership altogether, so select your state of residence wisely. If you cannot own a fox, research conservation centers like the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center allow you to sponsor a fox.
If you can't get enough of the trending fox, grab up the self-titled book from publisher Chronicle Books, Juniper: The Happiest Fox, to add to your coffee table. It tells of her life with her fellow exotic animals and of course, Moose.
Follow Juniper on her Instagram account, juniperfoxx, for more adorable photos of the happiest fox and the rest of her exotic animal family. You can also take a look at the numerous pics of the curious animal family on juniperfoxx.com.
Do you have a pet fox? Head on over to Wide Open Pet's Facebook page and let us know!
This article was originally publish on February 17, 2019.
READ MORE: 10 Exotic Pets + Where They Are Legal to Own
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.