Raw for Foxes

Foxes are more Feline than what they are Canine, and thus need a more feline based balanced diet.

In the wild, foxes generally hunt small rodents.
From a very early age, they learn to pounce in order to quickly and quietly catch their favourite food.
But in captivity, hunting isn’t something your pet fox has to do (yet you’ll probably still see that he’ll pounce before eating or during play).

As with feeding Dogs and Cats a raw diet, some people have mixed feelings about feeding raw meat to pet foxes.

If you choose to offer raw meat to your fox, make sure you are feeding predominantly whole prey items.
Foxes need an as close as possible to natural diet.
Avoid feeding any foods other than what is recommended.
Just because a fox likes something that doesn’t mean they should eat it.
Fennec foxes will typically eat mice and smaller rodents while Red or Siberian foxes  enjoy a rat or small rabbit as they are a little bit larger compared to a fennec.

Meat protein is the first essential.
Regardless of the source, your fox’s diet should be predominantly protein based.
Natural prey provides roughage in the form of fur, feather and bone and a fox’s metabolism benefits from a high portion of roughage, meaning entire chicks, mice, rabbits, squirrels and not just a chicken breast or steak.
Foxes need the organs, bones, and other bits of the entire animal, not just the muscles.

Insects are also a part of a fox’s diet, 4%.
In the wild, a lot of a fox’s day is spent foraging for grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, beetles, and mealworms in addition to an occasional crayfish.
Luckily, in captivity it is easy to feed a few dozen mealworms, crickets, or other larger insects as they are readily available in most pet stores.

Vitamins and Supplements for Foxes
Most of the vitamins and minerals that your fox needs will already be in the food you feed,  the rest of what they need will be in, insects, and vegetables you offer on a daily basis.
Vegetables, such as mixed frozen vegetables, cherry tomatoes, and other bite-sized vegetables can be offered daily but only at 1%.
If you notice your fox’s stool has a lot of vegetable matter in it, you are probably feeding too much and should cut back on the amount you are offering.
Many people only feed fruits as treats.
Foxes especially like berries and many fox owners also recommend giving cherries as treats to help with the odor of their urine. (No grapes or raisins)

The best available research indicates 95% of a fox’s diet consists of meat, both hunted and scavenged, and mainly rabbits, rats, birds and small mammals, 4% insects and worms, and the remaining 1% of fruit.

Grains
Foxes do not eat grains in the wild, so do not feed things like wheat, rice, oats, and other carbs in their diet.
Carbohydrates are found in the prey they eat, so mice, rats, birds etc
You can tell by your Fox’s stools if you are feeding the correct diet.
Good, healthy droppings are black and well formed.

A twist at one end will indicate fur or feathers in the diet.
Sloppy stools may suggest an too much fruit or vegetables.

If you are ever unsure what to feed your fox check with your exotics vet for their recommendations.

How much to feed
If Possible, weigh your fox, as raw meals are based on the weight of your fox. Estimates are:

  • 1 1/5% for weight loss
  • 2% to maintain weight
  • 2 1/2% – 3% for weight gain

I put estimate as every fox is an individual, with individual needs.
These weights can be adjusted if for example your fox is gaining weight on 2% lower the amount fed, if losing weight at 2% up the amount fed.
To make calculating the meals easier I have added a calculator, as maths isn’t everyone’s strong point and a worry for some

There are people that balance their meals out over a week or even a month, but for me it is easier to balance a meal each day, as otherwise I will have to keep a note of what each cat has been eating to make sure they get the right balance at the end of it all.
There is no right or wrong in this, it all depends on what works best for you and your fox.

What to feed
Feed a minimum of 4 – 5 proteins, the more variety the better with red meats being dominant.
If you know your fox is allergic to a certain protein for example chicken I would start with a different protein first and leave the chicken as the last protein to add.
This way you know your fox is fine with at least 3 other protein sources before trying him/her on the protein your fox supposedly is allergic to.

Taurine
This is an amino acid and a must in a fox’s diet.
It’s needed to maintain heart function, but it’s also important for many other vital functions like growth, sight and hearing.
So it is important to a fox’s well being and health.
Foxes cannot create their own taurine, unlike many other carnivores, so it’s important that you ensure you are providing enough taurine in a raw diet.

How much of this taurine does my fox need?
I have not been able to find exact numbers nor how to work those numbers out, but what I could find is that a fox cannot overdose on taurine, as when your fox gets more than needed it will come out when urinating, so in short feed as much taurine rich raw meat as you can.

What are good taurine sources?
Good sources for taurine are not hard to find, so don’t panic.
Taurine is found in muscles, the harder the muscle has to work, the more concentrated the taurine is (leg, thigh, shoulder for example) so dark meat has more taurine compared to light meat because it comes from parts of the body that work harder.
Heart is the hardest working muscles in the body with high concentrations of taurine, and is easy to get hold

If you are worried if your fox  is getting enough taurine , you can always add a supplement, though with a well-balanced raw diet that shouldn’t be needed.

Grinding, freezing, defrosting and its effect on taurine
Taurine is highly soluble which means that any frozen meat will lose its concentration of taurine
when defrosting. (Tip: defrost meat in a tub, and add the liquid to the fox’s food, any liquids that you can give extra is a bonus, and they’re still getting their taurine)

Grinding meat can lower taurine content, as well as decrease some other vital nutrients.
It can also create an environment for bacteria growth.
Ground raw can be a great starter to full raw feeding, but only a starter, it’s not ideal food for foxes, their teeth are made to chomp and tear

Foxess in the wild will eat the whole prey, insects and some fruit/veg, which can be broken down in to the following percentages.

  • 75% Meat (protein): Whole prey including fur and feathers is best, like Chicken , quail, pigeon, mice, rat, day old chicks, guinea pigs, rabbit etc. White Meats: Chicken, Turkey and Farmed rabbits. Red Meats: Beef, Lamb, Pork, Goat, Duck, Goose, Venison, Wild Rabbit, (Game) Birds.
  • 10% Bone: All parts of chicken, duck, turkey, rabbits, game fowl, small prey. Ribs of smaller animals like rabbit, chicken, other poultry (No cooked (or otherwise processed) bones or weight bearing bones. See Bone % Chart
  • 5% liver
  • 5% other secreting organs: Kidney, Testicles, Spleen (milt), Brain, Eyes, Sweetbreads (thymus), Pancreas and Ovaries
  • 4% insects: grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, beetles, and mealworms
  • 1% fruit and vegetables: mixed frozen vegetables, cherry tomatoes, and other bite-sized vegetables

Game/ wild animals and fish will have to be frozen for 3 – 4 weeks first before feeding to get rid of any parasites.
It is also advisable to freeze
shop bought human grade fresh meat  for about 1 – 2 weeks in case of Neospora and Toxoplasmosis contamination (mainly beef, lamb and goat)

The best way towards a fully balanced diet without (too many) complications is to take it slow, as the stomach PH will have to lower (from 3-5PH on kibble to 1-2PH on raw) increasing the acidity in the stomach, which is needed to digest bone and deal with bacteria.
It’s in this first stage (First 5 to 10 days) where it’s advised to feed just a single protein source, no bone and no offal

A protein that is mostly accepted really well is chicken (Boneless and skinless) or green tripe (Only feed green tripe, as white tripe meant for human consumption has not got the same nutritional value beneficial to your cat as green tripe has)
Learn more about tripe here
Pet shops like Pets At Home sells green tripe in the freezer section.

If your fox is doing well in the first 5 to 10 days (No abnormal stools or stomach upsets) you can start adding a soft bone to the meal (this is the 2nd week), like chicken wings, wing tips, necks etc (no more than 10% of the full meal allowance)

If by the end of the 2nd week your fox is doing well on a single meat and bone source, it’s time to start introducing a new protein.
Do this in small increments. EG 10-20% of the meal per day until the end of the week you have replaced the whole meal with the new protein.
Continue adding a new protein source the same way as above until your fox is eating 4 or more different types. (The more variety the better, as each protein source has different beneficial nutrients)

Once you’re feeding about 4 different proteins you can start adding offal (Offal will always be a secreting organ, and Liver has got to make up 5% of the 10% allowance as explained at the beginning of this page)

As Liver is the one organ meat that has to be part of the diet I suggest you start adding this first, however even though it is the most important organ to feed, feeding more than the recommended 5% can cause a vitamin A overdose , so liver will only ever be a total of 5% of their meal.
Don’t start by giving the full amount, as going to fast will result in runny stools.
As with adding a new protein you will want to introduce liver slowly to their diet.

Once your pet has been eating the full 5% of liver without any problems, you can start adding another organ (kidney is the easiest to get hold of as you can use supermarket bought, but if you can get hold of other secreting organs that would be great).
Again building it up slowly (slow is key)

Once you’ve got your meals balanced out on 4 different proteins, with meat, bone and offal, you can start adding Fish.

Fish should be introduce slowly to begin with
You can feed a whole days worth of fish, spread over a few days as otherwise you risk it coming back up or your fox getting diarrhoea.
Whole fish are classed as whole prey so have a balance of 80/10/5/5.

Fish is a great protein source rich in omega 3 fatty acids and has fairly low saturated fat levels, making it a brilliant protein source alongside other meat proteins.
They are full of the best omega 3 fatty acids for dogs and cats and foxes, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) , which are found in fatty fish, all of which have health benefits like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, aiding joints and all round mobility.
For more information about fish and what fish is safe to feed read here

If your fox doesn’t like Fish whether fresh or frozen, be it the texture or other you can always supplement by giving a good krill/ Salmon oil.

The last thing to be added, but not least important is eggs.
Eggs are a great addition to your fox’s diet as they are full of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Folate, Vitamin B12, Iron, Selenium, Fatty Acids and when feeding the shell you’ll be adding Calcium on top of Eggs will need to be counted towards the meat allowance and should be fed two or three a week, however if you’ve got an over weight fox you might want to give eggs in more moderation, as eggs are a quite fatty protein source.
It can be fed with or without shell. (Think of chicken, duck, goose and quail.eggs)

Last but not least There often is some confusion around organ meats, in the sense of whether they should be fed as offal or as meat.
The easiest way to explain it is to determine whether the offal is more of a secreting organ or a muscle.
See the charts below:

Note:
Red meats should be fed more in the diet compared to white meats.
Green tripe should only be 10 – 15% of the heart between 15% – 20% (it is very rich and can cause diarrhoea when fed more)
The more variety of proteins you can provide for your fox the better.
Remember, your fox needs fur and feathers for roughage, so working towards feeding whole prey is best, or at least offer a small rodent or bird with his regular food