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On August 21, 2003, at 2:45pm, my wife of 34 years, Rebecca, died in my arms in an emergency room.

The last words we spoke were in perfect synchronization: "I love you with all my heart."

 

How To Tame A Wild Fox

Everybody said "no", we said "yes". 

But this may not be as easy as it sounds,

and it's certainly not for everyone.

Update 9/2009:  As I view my visitor logs, I notice hits by the dozen from various search engines - many of them ask "can you tame a fox", or other search phrases to that effect.

Personally, I'm convinced you could tame almost any living creature - but this depends upon multiple factors, plus a lot of psychology.  In my limited experience, (one fox, a few hawks, several doves, rabbits, fish, and exotic wild birds), there's one thing that is an absolute requirement - food.  Food is the link which creates dependency - it "re-establishes the umbilical cord".

However, "tame" might mean different things to many people.  Consider your own definition of "tame".

Another requirement is patience.  Our sense of "time" is not the same as a wild animal.  Therefore, we must be willing to spend hours, days - even weeks - proving to the wild animal that we not only provide food, but we are a part of their group, pack, or flock.  This is where the psychology comes in: I've found it's necessary to PROVE that I'm not a danger or a threat in any way.  Somehow - each situation is slightly different - I must behave in a way that creates trust, while avoiding anything which would put trust in question.   

Yet another critical requirement is space.  Confinement of any type creates mental stress.  Stress (of any nature) does not contribute to a wild animal developing trust in a human - and nearly ALL wild animals instinctively avoid humans.  When confined, there is nowhere to go - the animal can't avoid or escape.  This survival instinct (flight) has been part of almost every wild animal for millions of years - the reason is simple: humans KILL these animals.  Through centuries, animals have learned, instincts have been formed - stay away from the vertical animal known as "human". 

After approximately 6 months with Scamp, I feel relatively certain I could tame nearly any wild animal.  I'm not blowing my own horn here, but the psychological process of creating trust and dependency should work on nearly any wild animal - especially if the process can begin at a young age.

There are many species of wild animals that I wouldn't even dare try to tame.  I'm referring to truly dangerous or poisonous animals.  I just don't have the courage for that.

I can bore you with these two stories. 

Many years back, I had a 200 gallon aquarium, with nothing in it but water, rocks, and a filter.  I went fishing, and brought home a largemouth bass, which weighed approximately 3 pounds.  He went into the fish tank.  At first, I'd offer food, and he'd hide behind a rock - about 6' away, at the other end of the tank - as far from me as possible.  Within a few days, the bass was taking food from my hand.  In less than a month, he'd come to the surface so I could pet him - with no food involved.  A fish being petted by a human?  It makes no sense - it's completely against his instincts - and he was confined!  (I think it's understandable that I couldn't dig out a lake for him.)  He lived here for about 4 months, then I brought him to the lake down the street (the same lake I had caught him) and set him free.  Amazingly, he'd grown and gained weight during those 4 months.  And - he actually allowed me to pick him up - out of the water - some of the time, anyway.   

A dove flew into the phone lines and nearly severed one wing.  There was no way to fix the damage.  My wife and I amputated what was irreparable, and sutured the wing, so it would heal.  The dove lived here for about 2 years, and spent more time on our shoulders and heads than you'd believe.  We developed a very basic level of "communication" - the dove learned to lift his good wing to "tell" us various things, and his demeanor - for example, fright (and his desire to escape) - was easily recognized.  We provided the dove with a "safe place" - an airline crate with branches, and a good hiding place (just a small cardboard box) inside - so he could completely avoid other people and dogs.  Exactly like the other animals mentioned, the dove wanted no part of any other humans.  If he was in the office and someone arrived, his behaviors clearly indicated he wanted to get away.  Off to his "safe place".

Essentially, what I'm trying to convey, is that a wild animal never wants to be near humans.  To overcome this powerful instinct, it's necessary to prove - without any doubt - that the animal has nothing to fear from you.  Often, this requires a LOT of time and patience - and an understanding that wild animals are "wild" for a very good reason.

Another consideration is your own personality.  Would you be angry if a fox urinated all over your sofa?  Exhibiting anger won't build trust, as I've explained.  Wild animals haven't got a clue how to live in a human's environment, so you can logically expect damage, mess, and broken belongings.  You should ask yourself if you really have the tolerance for these inevitable occurrences, because they WILL happen.

So, in conclusion, the answer is both "yes" and "no". 

You might like to read the rest of this page and Scamp's Journal for more information.                          

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