Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 129: Daily Upkeep of an Arctic Fox's Enclosure

There is a lot that goes into the upkeep of the fox, and even mundane details of day to day life should be known for all prospective owners of a pet arctic fox.

An important aspect to be taken into consideration is housing. Anyone who wants an arctic fox needs to realize that they cannot be kept inside. Even if you can manage to keep them inside, they are much happier outside, even if it is just on your porch or in a sun room.

There are a lot of things that must be taken into account when setting up an enclosure - size, material, substrate, location - but I just want to talk about the daily upkeep of an enclosure.

Scoop out droppings daily.

I have a scooper I purchased at my local grocery store for only about $10, one of these neat little things. I prefer the jaws as opposed to the bucket and sweep method. Every day, go out and pick up any droppings you may find. Have a plastic bag handy, and if you have thick layer of hay or other substrate, bring a stick with you stir up the bedding to find more hidden surprises. Once finished, simply tie up the bag and dispose of the waste.

Check the water bottle to ensure your fox has water.

This is a no brainer. Every animal, whether it is a snake, horse, or fox, should always have access to water.
Big water jugs meant for dogs are easy to knock over and make a mess.
It's best to get a waterer that can be hung, even if it is a simple water bottle meant for ferrets and rabbits. They even make water bottles identical to this meant for dogs, but it's essentially the same thing you can get for rabbits. The one on the left is what I have, meant for animals with wide mouths like rabbits, ferrets, small dogs and foxes. I prefer bottles to bowls as bowls get junk knocked into them and also get knocked over, getting bedding all wet and leaving your fox without water. Bottles can easily be mounted on chainlink. Always check to make sure bottles are not leaking, have water and are firmly attatched. Miehiera has managed to knock hers down on many occasions.

Clean bowls, toys, and furniture often.

Foxes aren't exactly the most clean animals in the world. Be sure to check food bowls frequently and clean them with hot water any time they get yucky. Hard plastic toys can be cleaned with a bleach and water solution, and soft ones may be washed in a washing machine. You don't need to clean furniture every day, but every so often it's good to give it a scrub down with hot water.

Swap out toys and re-arrange to keep things interesting.

After cleaning out the enclosure, make things fun for the fox! Move a dog house to the opposite side, add a chair, take out some toys and add some back in. Old chairs are a lot of fun, as well as boxes, tunnels and tubes made for toddlers. Make sure to remove any shredding or severely worn furniture and toys. Hide toys in a kiddy pool filled with gravel.

Check for any hazards and openings.

You should always have a bottom to prevent digging, whether it is chainlink or concrete. I currently do not have a roof on Miehiera's pen as she cannot jump or climb to save her life, but I plan on adding one for extra security. Do a good scan of the area to make sure there are no gaps, no frayed chainlink ends to get caught on. Refill any holes that have been started that could lead to an escape. Make sure that your fox can't get out and nothing can get in.

Change bedding monthly.

I use hay as it is very cozy and does not get too gross very fast. I have used pine shavings, but if you live in a wet environment, they will get wet and start to rot very quickly. Scoop out the bottom daily and completely change over the bedding, scooping it all out and putting fresh substrate down once a month.

Use common sense.

If you see something dirty? Clean it! If there's poo all over the side of the chainlink, wonder how your fox managed to get it all over there (Miehiera did manage this once - it was not diarrhea, solid feces all over the side of the chainlink. I was baffled), but clean it up! See an opening? Get it closed!
I do not recommend having a litter box, as it will quickly get wet in a rainy environment and unusable.

Overall, the daily maintenance of a fox's enclosure is not difficult. Putting off this duty will result in deplorable conditions, something you don't want to have to clean when it gets real gross and something your fox does not want to be in every day. Not to mention that the animal can get sick or be seized for neglect.

Foxes can make this very fun, Miehiera loves to try and steal her poopy bag or plays in the straw as I scoop it, so don't make this into a chore, make it as fun as you can for the both of you and it will be easy to accomplish each day.

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