Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Quick Guide to Traveling with Foxes

As a companion post to the one before, I'd like to share my tips and advice on how to travel with a fox.
Though foxes probably aren't going to travel as often as a dog in a car, you'll need to know how to do it should you be picking your fox up, taking them to the vet or any other place.

While I have only traveled with a fox twice, this is what has worked for me in my experience.

Materials I recommend bringing:

  • Plenty of newspapers or pee-pads
    • Pee-pads are better. Newspapers will get wet, shredded and will not absorb as much.
  • Welder's gloves 
    • Even if your fox is typically well-behaved, they can turn ill-tempered when inside a crate. The last thing you'd want is an aggressive fox and no way to change their food or water without getting bit. This is also helpful if bringing home a scared kit. You want to want to use these instead of correcting them in the middle of a stressful trip for biting is adding on even more unnecessary stress.
  • Leash and harness
    • No brainer; though I recommend putting on the harness before putting the fox in a crate. Miehiera struggles normally when putting on the harness; under stress I imagine she'd be a lot worse, and it'd also be terrible if a fox were to squirm away and become lost.
  • Pet safe air freshener
    • If traveling in a car, at your pit stops it can be nice to spray down the car while the fox is not in it.
  • Paper towels
    • For cleaning.
  • Safe cleaner
    • I recommend Nature's Miracle. Very effective stuff and safe for animals.
  • Food and bowls
  • Crate 
    • Plastic ones that are well-covered and ventilated work the best. Your fox can see out less and no one can see in as well, which should make them feel more secure. For larger foxes medium or large dog crates, but for a fennec fox a small crate could work for short distances. If traveling a long way, increase crate size and bring a second crate to move your fox into while you clean their 'main' crate.
  • Treats
    • To fill your kong with as well, as well as to use to help calm your fox down when stopping. Bring her favorite kind and preferably something you can feed them through the bars of a crate.
  • 1 gallon of cold water
  • A water bottle
    • The ones for ferrets/rabbits/etc. should work. You can attach these to the front of the crate. This prevents messes from your fox spilling their dishes and will help ensure your fox has water at all times without having to make frequent pit stops.
  • Kong or something to chew on
    • A life saver; will keep your fox entertained, distracted, and will help associate travelling = treats!
  • Hand sanitizer
    • Chances are you're going to be dealing with a fox who will pee and poop, and you're going to have to be handling that. This way you can keep your hands clean without having to run to the bathroom to wash all the time.
  • Pooper scooper and plastic bags
    • Be courteous if you're going to be letting your fox relieve itself in the grass. Clean up after them.
  • Bed sheet
    • Bring one with you if you are travelling with your fox in the bed of a truck. This way you can minimize how much someone can see in and less your fox can see out, reducing stress. I would also rub yourself with it to get your scent on it.
  • A traveling buddy
    • I would never travel alone with a fox. You're going to need someone who can hold your fox if you're cleaning, to act as a safe guard in case your fox wiggles out of your arms, and overall someone to just help you out.
  • Copies of your fox's health records, receipts, ownership transfer, etc.
    • Always have a paper trail for your fox, and always have it with you when travelling. This way if you are ever approached by law enforcement, you have proof that the fox is legally kept. Even if you're only travelling a short distance, you never know when you will be approached by law enforcement
  • Collar with tags
    • In worst case scenario, your fox somehow gets away from you while travelling, you want some sort of identification to let people know that your fox is a pet and not a wild animal. Therefore, identification is especially important for foxes.
  • An SUV or Truck
    • While you can travel in a car, it is pitiful as it's cramped and smelly. I prefer an SUV as you are more aware of your fox's well-being, can keep checks in temperature and ventilation and minimize the chance of your fox escaping or being stolen, and being exposed to the public eye. The downside is that it can get smelly in an SUV. In a truck, while you will have more ventilation, you will have less control of the elements and the condition of your fox.
  • Towels or other sort of bedding
    • Make your fox cozy. You wouldn't want to lay down on just a pee-pad would you? Towels are okay, an old shirt will comfort your fox, and a cat tower while nice, I would avoid as they can topple and squish your fox.
Some tips for travelling with a fox:
  • Keep your travelling time down to a minimum. Look for vets nearby. If you must pick up your fox from a breeder more than five hours away, a better option would be shipping. 
  • Try to avoid unnecessary stops. Get gas, food, and stop at the store before going on a trip.
  • When going for the long haul, make a pit stop every hour to check on your fox, make sure they have food, water, are not overheating  and clean out their cage if it has become soiled.
  • When making pit stops, avoid extremely public places such as restaurants, stores, gas stations etc. Look instead for rest areas or the parking lot of nature parks.
  • Make it fun! Talk to your fox when you can, feed them tons of treats, bring kongs and stuff to chew on. Make this as much as a positive experience as you can.
  • Never leave your fox unsupervised in a car, especially on hot or cold days. 
  • If approached by law enforcement, be cool, don't argue or make a fuss. Make sure you have your fox's paper trail handy.
  • If crossing state lines, always check to make sure that foxes are legal where you are travelling. Even if they are and you're going to be staying for awhile, call ahead and see how long you can stay before you're required to have a permit or license. If you are just passing through states that they aren't legal, call ahead as well to be aware of their polices and how long you can be in the state with the animal.
  • Even if you're only going to be travelling in-state, check city and town ordinances of where you will be going. While your fox might be legal in your state, they could easily be illegal in another town. 
  • Keep your fox's shots, worms and health as up to date as possible.
  • Have the number of the nearest emergency exotic veterinarian on hand if you can.
  • Keep your car well ventilated.
  • While your fox might go in a litter box, a litter box can get messy fast if it is tipped. I would only bring one if you have a large crate and a way to secure it.
  • Avoid feeding your pet while the car is moving, as well as right before you leave. This will prevent car sickness and your fox from going in the crate. 
  • When you arrive, give your fox time to adjust, settle down before you pull them out of the crate.

That's all for now folks, I hope that will help any prospective owners as well as current owners better understand what it's like travelling with a fox. 

Ta-ta for now!

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