Back in November 2018, a family living in Alsager, Cheshire in the UK saw a strange animal in their backyard. It looked like it could be a fox, but it acted like a dog.
And when the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) heard about the creature through the startled family’s Facebook post, they knew they had to kick into high gear. Guy Fawkes Night was coming up and that annual celebration brought with it a night of fireworks.
A former RSPCA inspector-turned cattery owner named Amanda Lovett headed over to meet the homeowner.
It turns out that they had a particularly rare animal in their backyard – a silver fox.
“I was alerted to a post on a local Facebook group and it would seem the fox had been in the garden for most of the day,” Lovett said in comments obtained by SWNS. “This was on Saturday, one of the biggest nights for fireworks, and we knew we had to get the fox to safety.”
George Clooney jokes aside, the animal that came to be known as “Shadow” was clearly confused and lost. Lovett had to get it somewhere safe over the weekend while many facilities were closed.
“I managed to safely catch the fox with a grasper and put him in a cat box before taking him to Stapeley Grange [Wildlife Centre], who kindly stayed open later so he could be admitted. He was very quiet and seemed tame.”
What to do with Shadow?
Later, the RSPCA said they believed Shadow had been kept as a pet because of his docile nature. And while he’s a beautiful animal, that’s a terrible idea.
But the only real problem Shadow had health-wise was that he was a little overweight.
Still, there was no letting him go since he had been domesticated. Furthermore, if he made his way back into inhabited parts of town, he could be a menace and harm other animals. That’s what foxes do.
There’s nothing particularly different about a silver fox. In fact, they’re the exact same species as a red fox – they just have a melanin mutation in their genes that turns them black.
As they age, they can develop silver tips and they are often bred for their fur.
But like any other fox, they need to eat. And what they eat often includes livestock and even wandering cats. They carry the animals off to their dens to be eaten and shared with any young animals in the pack.
Lee Stewart, the manager of Stapeley Grange, said:
“It is likely that Shadow has been kept as a pet and he has either escaped, in which case we need to find his owners, or he has been dumped by his owners.”
They found no microchip.
Finding a home for a rare beauty
Some foxes can be taught to live in homes, but they’ll never be dogs. Their prey instincts will remain high.
And it should go without saying that no one should take it upon themselves to domesticate a wild animal. That should only happen in rescues when they have a health issue that eliminates their ability to live normally.
The silver fox is the melanistic form of the North American red fox, and was introduced to the Old World by the fur trade. This fox is characterized by pure black color with a variable admixture of silver (covering 25–100% of the skin area.) from r/Awwducational
That wasn’t the case with Shadow. But he likely got to be too much for his owners to handle since no one came forward to claim him.
Stewart said his staff found it an honor to get to know Shadow.
“He is the first silver fox we have ever had here at Stapeley Grange, in nearly 25 years we have been open. He is an impressive-looking animal and it has been interesting to us all to have such a rare admission.”
While there were no formal updates, the RSPCA said that if Shadow’s owners didn’t come forward (and likely with a good reason for keeping a fox as a pet) that he would be raised by a fox specialist so that he could live out his life peacefully.
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