National Geographic asks if foxes could be good pets
National Geographic‘s fantastic cover story on the science of domesticating animals gets into how humans domesticated just 13 species over millions of years–and whether we can replicate that in other species now. Evan Ratliff goes to the famous Russian fox fur farm experiment, which breeds foxes for submissiveness has yielded foxes with odd coats and some of the physical features of domestic dogs. The story says they have to sell off foxes that aren’t bred to fur farms or pet owners. I reached out to the center to ask about how that might work for Americans. No answer yet. I also wonder if they might try it with squirrels, which have been kept on and off as pets for centuries.
Germans mull not killing half a million fox a year
Germans are questioning the wisdom of killing half a million foxes each year in January and February. Hunters claim these Fox Weeks or Fuchswochen are vaguely good for the environment. They reason fox could eat endangered species (which?) into extinction and then still survive on garbage. Biologists in Deutche Welle not buying it.
UK hunters battle wildlife rehab center over fox hunting
UK hunters successfully bullied a grocery store into not giving money to a wildlife rehabiliation center, Little Foxes (which treats all kinds of birds an animals), because its founder doesn’t like fox hunts.
The San Clemente Island fox may get put on the endangered species list, a move that would force the Navy to curtail its training on this tiny island off San Diego, the LATimes reports. The Island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is already called critically endangered by the IUCN Red List; each of the six islands it lives on has its own subspecies. The fox’s problem is that it is so tiny and friendly. Drivers don’t see the 3-4 pound fox and the foxes don’t run from people or cars. Somehow I think the Navy, which has no problem ignoring warnings on sonar and whales, will find a work-around.
Cryptid Fox in DC
In the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Tacoma a strange creature has been haunting backyards. On a Yahoo! group one resident described it as “a mottled grey and brown, very skinny, short haired animal…[with] a long bare tail with white hair at the very end. Looked like a cross between a chihuahua and a whippet. Was very skittish and ran away as soon as I came out the door. About 18″ tall and longer.” As with so many cryptozoology reports, this one turned out to be just a wild canid with mange. This time the hoped-for Chupacabra turned out to be a fox.
Giant Fox in UK
Meanwhile in England, someone trapped a fox that measures four feet from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail. Apparently, that’s some kind of record. At 26.5 pounds, he’s said to weigh twice the normal weight and been terrorizing local pet owners. (He ate a 19-year-old cat.)
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