YORK COUNTY, Pa, — (WHTM) A view out a window in Carroll Township, of a fox looking for lunch.
While foxes are usually nocturnal, seeing one out by day, in and of itself, is no cause for alarm. They are opportunistic feeders, and sometimes the best opportunities come when the sun is up.
In addition, it’s mating season. Foxes mate in January and kits (usually four to six) arrive in March. So if this is a vixen (female fox) she could be eating for considerably more than two.
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It is perhaps no surprise that the scientific name for the red fox-Vulpes vulpes-literally translates from Latin as “fox fox”. Say the word “fox” almost anywhere on the planet, and the red fox is the species that will pop into peoples’ minds. They are one of the most widespread animals in the world.
Thanks to humans, foxes have established themselves in places they couldn’t reach on their own. European settlers released them in Australia for fox hunting; the foxes did what foxes do, and in the process helped cause the decline of dozens of native species. They are now considered a “nuisance” species, like it was somehow their fault.
While most people think of foxes as a rural species, they can adapt quite well to living close to humans in urban settings. In fact, in some locations, particularly cities in Great Britain, they actually seem to be self-domesticating, developing physical traits like shorter snouts and more “doglike” skulls, and mental traits like reduced fear of humans. (They also tend to be larger and heavier than rural foxes because we feed them so well with our leftovers.)
Don’t think for a minute, though, that this means foxes will make good pets. They’re very high strung, like to dig (which in a house, it means excavating the furniture), chew on things-like every shoe in sight-and will obsessively-ahem!-mark their territory. (If you look at YouTube videos of people who have foxes, you’ll notice a lot of them keep the animals outdoors.)
In Pennsylvania, you’re not allowed to keep a fox (and a lot of other wild animals) without a permit from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. According to Chad Iwler, the State Game Control Officer in charge of permitting, to get an Exotic Wildlife Possession Permit you have to have at least two years of experience with foxes, a letter from someone who already has a permit that confirms your experience, and an enclosure for the fox built to Game Commission specifications. “we’re pretty strict here,” says Iwler, “Both for the safety of the animals and the people.”
But before you even get started with the state permitting process, you’ll want to check with your local municipality. Certain local governments in Pennsylvania do not allow the keeping of wild animals. If they do, you’ll probably have to get a permit from them as well.