Thanks to a couple of musicians from Norway and their popular song, “What Does a Fox Say?” a lot of people are thinking about foxes these days. And why not? They are famously clever. Moreover, they are cute and cuddly. It’s too bad we can’t keep them as pets.
Well, actually that last bit is no longer true. Thanks to an experiment in Russia that has been running for over 50 years, we now have domesticated foxes. It was the idea of Russian scientist, Dmitry Belyaev.
As a young man, Dmitry was intrigued by the domestication process and he developed various theories about it. In 1954, he set out to test his theories. His goal was to domesticate the wild fox. He started with a group of 130. With each generation only the tamest ones were allowed to breed. Half a century later, there are almost 50,000 very human-friendly foxes.
The changes in the foxes have been dramatic. They are not at all aggressive towards humans like wild foxes. In fact, they love attention from humans. Basically, they behave like dogs. They have changed physically to look like dogs, as well. They have a variety of coat colors, many have floppy ears, and their skulls and noses are more rounded.
Dmitri predicted all of this. The only surprise for him was how little time the transformation took.
Are you ready for your own fox? Last year it was possible to adopt a fox from the research program for around $8,000 dollars. However, The Domestic Fox, the company working with the scientists in Russia recently closed their website, so you may have to wait a little longer.