Have foxes ever been do­mes­ti­cated?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our Wild World -

AIt’s pos­si­ble to do­mes­ti­cate red foxes, as demon­strated by a breed­ing pro­gramme started in 1959 by Rus­sian ge­neti­cists, which pro­duced tame an­i­mals that wagged their tails, but there has been scant ev­i­dence of fox do­mes­ti­ca­tion in our his­tor­i­cal past. How­ever, re­cent ex­ca­va­tions of Bronze Age burial sites near Barcelona have un­cov­ered that peo­ple on the Ibe­rian Penin­sula were do­mes­ti­cat­ing foxes 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Anal­y­ses of fox, dog and hu­man skele­tons re­vealed that the ca­nines were fed a high-en­ergy ce­real diet, sim­i­lar to that of the peo­ple. It’s plau­si­ble that both foxes and dogs were used for car­ry­ing light loads or pulling sleds, be­fore the use of horses be­came wide­spread.

Were red foxes once man’s best friend? Seen as pests by some, it’s now thought these ca­nines helped an­cient peo­ple.

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