We’ve gotten several calls in the last few months about foxes that appeared “too thin” and “sickly.” While a few of them were sick with mange— which is marked bu bald patches of skin with scabs and crust— most were actually perfectly healthy!
Foxes are built like whippets. They have very long legs and lean bodies. Most foxes that you see on TV and in photographs look plump because of their thick fur coats, which hide their natural thinness.
Here in Tennessee, a typical fox doesn’t have a very thick coat, especially in summer, so its lanky build becomes much more apparent. It’s understandable to be concerned, but these “skinny” foxes are just fine!
This fellow, named Mylo, is a rescued fox living here in East Tennessee with our friends at Exotic Pet Wonderland. Despite looking very skinny, he is quite healthy and receives a diet richer in fat and calories than his wild counterparts. As you can see, it would be easy to think he was underweight if you didn’t know that this is normal for foxes!
You can generally tell if a fox is actually emaciated if you know what to look for. Foxes that are actually starving tend to be out in daylight and may be confused. They may be less fearful of humans or too weak to run away quickly. Their ribs may be visible and their spines may noticeably protrude from their backs. If you see these signs, please get in touch with a rehabilitator.
Thank you all for looking out for our native wildlife!