Foxes don’t seem like they would make the best pets, what with their being wild animals and all. While it’s true that your average wild fox would probably make a terrible pet, some scientists actually claim to have managed to domesticate foxes after 50 years of selective breeding.
The experiments began in the Soviet Union in the 1950s, when Russian geneticist Dmitri Konstantinovich Belyaev began attempting to mimic the same process of domestication that turned wolves into the dogs we know today… And those experiments produced some amazing results.
Domesticated foxes aren’t just, well, domesticated, they’re also adorable beyond words. Especially this one!
Meet Rylai, a truly adorable domesticated fox made possible through years of selective breeding experiments in Russia. Born in early April, 2015, this precious fox cub has already garnered over 63,000 followers on Instagram.
Rylai’s owner acquired her from a licensed fox dealer, and named her after a character in the massively popular, free-to-play online video game DoTA2. Eventually, though, she made a name all for herself.
Although Rylai was technically a red fox, her fur never actually turned red. Instead, her coloring was a variation called “white marble,” which does not occur naturally in the wild. Not only that, but her owner said she was the perfect companion right from the start.
While she was never the typical pet, that didn’t stop Rylai’s owner from making the fox part of the family. As part of a line of foxes who are supposedly domesticated, she’s supposed to behave in much the same way as a dog. Would that prove to be the case, though?
When she was first adopted, Rylai was no larger than a standard mouse pad, but she was expected to max out at around 15 pounds. In other words, she seemed like she was going to stay pretty tiny her whole life, but of course, nothing lasts forever…
Rylai’s owners were careful about maintaining a healthy diet for her, and the little fox loved to eat an organic puree of chicken and turkey. That went along with plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well!
Watch out for those fingers, though! While Rylai was domesticated, meaning that she was unlikely to behave viciously toward humans who weren’t aggressive toward her, she was still young and unpredictable and descended from wild animals…
Domesticated foxes like Rylai can live up to 15 years, which is actually quite a long time… that’s longer than the vast majority of dogs are able to live! So, her owners knew they had years with this fur ball to look forward to, at the very least.
Nonetheless, that didn’t mean that they didn’t have to be careful with her. Much like a dog, she received rabies and heart-worm prevention shots. She even got to see a veterinarian who specialized in exotic animals!
As a pup, Rylai loved to go outside for long walks in her harness, much like any dog would. Still, she grew up inside and, according to her owner, tended to be a little bit nervous in the outdoors.
Rylai also loved to take naps as frequently as possible, and it was absolutely precious to watch. Not only that, but it’s important to remember that sleeping well is vital for any young animal.
She took a lot of naps, actually. It’s hard to blame her for that, though. It must have been exhausting to spend all day and night being the cutest thing anyone had ever seen! All seemed to be going well for this domesticated fox and her owner, but they did face some obstacles.
Owning such an animal wasn’t always easy. For example, as he owner explained on reddit, if he left the house, it would need to bed “fox proofed,” meaning hiding all “glassware, food, small items, etc.”
“Foxes are mischievous and will do whatever they want, regardless of how they think you feel about it,” her owner explained. That means that, as she grew, Rylai became quite the handful.
Rylai soon grew up to be a beautiful and healthy fox. Sure, she may not have been the adorable baby fox that she once was, but being an adorable adult fox is still just as special! Who wouldn’t love to cuddle with this fur ball? Well, about that…
Turns out, foxes aren’t always the cuddliest of critters. According to her owner, Rylai would cuddle with her humans, but not like a dog or a cat would. It’s important to remember that, while she was domesticated, she hasn’t had thousands of years of domestication like those animals do.
While Rylai did things her own way, she also had to learn how to interact with more common pets. Case in point, Rylai had a pair of more traditional siblings who she got along with swimmingly. Kratos the dog and Jar Jar the cat made for the perfect partners in crime!
rylaithefox / Instagram
Though little Rylai eventually grew up, she never seemed to stop being a good pet. She was still just as lovable—and loving—as she ever was! Obviously, not everyone was thrilled with the idea of domesticating wild animals, but it seemed to work out for Rylai and her family!rylaithefox / Instagram
Despite this, her owner doesn’t recommend people own foxes. As he told one Australian publication, “I don’t feel that the general pet owner can handle living with a fox. Many people will buy a fox and then dump it because it didn’t turn out to be like a cat [or] dog.”
rylaithefox / Instagram
Even so, there’s nothing stopping anyone from continuing to find joy in all of Rylai’s cutest moments that are still available on the Internet, including her very own YouTube channel. Just look at her go!
Isn’t Rylai just precious? It’s not surprising that she became such a superstar!
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