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Tame foxes

Here's a clip from an episode of NOVA ("Dogs Decoded") we caught last night, which describes an ongoing Russian experiment to breed domesticated silver foxes. I'm not thrilled about the small cages, but the science is fascinating, and they really do seem like they'd make awesome pets:



Another segment, about an experiment to see what would happen if wolf cubs were raised indoors like puppies, reminded me of act one of a typical Fatal Attractions episode, except that the scientists were smart enough to call a halt once things got dangerous.

Update via Research Maven: In fact, they are available as pets -- if you've got a spare six grand, and live in a state/city that allows them (looks like Seattle has a ban on the keeping of Canidae and their hybrids, except for ordinary dogs). According to the website they can be leash and litterbox [!] trained. And they come prevaccinated against plague -- always a plus!

Comments

( 3 comments )
akirlu
Nov. 19th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
I just rewatched that episode of Nova last night, too. All sorts of fascinating tidbits in there, including the way that physical infantile traits accompany selection for domestication. Our household is now agreed -- we want a pet silver fox.

I was particularly impressed with the levels of abstraction dogs are capable of. I was also amused by the much greater degree of attention Kaylee paid to the television while the show was on than when I watch something that's all humans. In general, she's much more of a TV-watcher than our previous dog, but this show was absolutely *fascinating* to her.
icecreamempress
Nov. 19th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, I really really want a fox to live with me now. Alas, not legal in Massachusetts, and I don't have 6K. Also, probably allergic (as I am allergic to dogs and cats and ferrets).

But I can dream, can't I?
needs_more_pi
Nov. 23rd, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC)
Wild animals are still wild...
If you thought the program was great, you might be interested in reading Raymond and Lorna Coppinger's book, "Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution." It's really eye-opening. I first read about the foxes in that book.

It takes a long time to domesticate a new animal, and just because something is a canid doesn't mean it's dog-like, as many unhappy owners of wolf-hybrids have learned to their dismay.
( 3 comments )

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