Foxes Go to School

January 26, 2015

This morning I had the pleasure of visiting Shatford Memorial Elementary, where I got to share my love of domestic foxes with the grade 3/4 and grade 5/6 classes. We rocked out to “What Does the Fox Say?” and even had a special guest dog join us for some hands-on communication experiments. The kids were enthusiastic and asked some great questions, and I thought I’d share some of those for today’s edition of Mad Scientist Monday.

Best birthday present ever!

Best birthday present ever!

Are the elephants and tigers you see in the movies domesticated?

They’re not, actually. They’re tame, and they’re trained, but they are not domesticated. These animals have been raised around people and taught how to behave, but they still have wild DNA. That means their babies are wild animals – we would have to train every generation of movie tigers to make sure they stayed calm around people. Domestic animals, on the other hand, have gone through an evolutionary process that has changed their DNA – their babies are born knowing how to live with people.

Could someone domesticate alligators and crocodiles the way they domesticated foxes?

People have tried to domesticate a lot of different animals, and it doesn’t always work. Zebras, for example, are very closely related to horses. But horses were easily domesticated, and zebras, not so much. I have a feeling that because alligators and crocodiles are highly aggressive predators that don’t normally live in social groups, they wouldn’t be susceptible to domestication, either. Which is probably a good thing, because imagine the food bills!

Can I have a domestic fox as a pet?

It depends on where you live. In Canada, sadly, no. Our government has not yet recognized Siberian domesticated foxes as a distinct species and it’s not legal to import them to Canada. Some states in the USA allow them, as do some other countries around the world. If you want more information, get in touch with Featuring Animals, a company that partners with the Russian scientists who manage the fox population, bringing domestic foxes to brand new homes.

Why do foxes make so many different sounds? (There are eight, in case you’re wondering!)

Foxes use different sounds the way we use different words – to communicate different ideas.

Where can I learn more about domestic foxes? 

I’m glad you asked. 🙂 You can start with my book Fox Talk, for ages 8+. Search my blog for additional fox posts, too, then go to the internet at large. You’ll fall in love with these amazing animals.

Fox Talk book cover


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