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REARING ORPHANED CUBS
Remember, if you start to rear an orphaned cub, that your intention must be to return it to the wild, and so the cub must not become habituated to any human being or domestic animal. This means that it should be handled as little as possible, however strong the urge to play with it or pet it.
Also from the outset seek professional advice from a veterinary surgeon. He may not be familiar with foxes, but will advise you on the frequency and amount of food that should be given to small puppies, and the same general rules apply to fox cubs. Remember also that young foxes are prone to rickets, scouring, distemper and parvo-virus, and special care with rearing and vaccinations will be necessary. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise you on when to vaccinate, and what supplements may be necessary to prevent health problems. Below is an outline of the feeding regime for fox cubs:
Remember that very young cubs (particularly those less than two weeks old) will have to be kept warm. A hot water bottle well lagged with a blanket to provide gentle heat is very effective. By the time the animal is three to four weeks old, no supplementary heat should be necessary provided there is plenty of fresh bedding, and the cub can be left in a kennel, cage or largish rabbit-type hutch. From six weeks onwards, however, the animal must not be kept indoors or in a small cage, and an old outbuilding, fenced run or garden shed will be necessary. However, foxes are adept escapologists. Any run must be well walled and securely wired in, with a wire roof since foxes are good climbers, and outbuildings and sheds must be sound - an adult fox can squeeze through a hole about 10cm square. So beware and regularly check your run or outbuilding for small holes. It is disheartening to lose the cub before its planned release.
As soon as bottle rearing has finished, handling is not necessary and must be avoided. The wilder you can keep the cub, the better are its long-term prospects. Do not play with it, and do not bring visitors to see it; the fewer different people the cub sees, the more wary of humans it will become.
If your cub is healthy, it will grow rapidly, and by six weeks of age will be very boisterous and playful. With two or more cubs there is no real problem, but with a solitary cub a succession of balls, old stuffed toys, dog chews and rags will be necessary to develop the cub's playing and hunting skills.
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