AN animal-daft mum has kept a fox as a pet and allows her young children to play with it - even though it has a tendency to bite strangers.
A mother-of-two, Natalie Reynolds from Hertforshire has hand-reared the fox since it was a cub and treats it as she would a regular dog, taking it out on the lead for daily walks.
She claims the fox, whose name is Jasper, has grown a strong bond with her children, Chace, 3, and Marissa, 5, who often play with the animal in the back garden.
However, Natalie admits she does attract some rather strange looks from passersby when she’s out and about.
And Jasper is not alone. The animal-daft family also have three dogs, a cat and horses.
The Reynolds family live in the quiet village of Sarratt, which was once popular with fox hunters prior to the 2004 ban.
“They get such bad press but he’s around my children and he just plays with them,” explained Mrs Reynolds, 35.
“He’s got a different bond with me. He’s not so great with my partner.
“He’s like a cross between a cat and a dog. He’s part of the pack.
“The dogs chase him around, he loves the cat but the cat isn’t too fond of him.
“I always walk him on the lead, he’s so domesticated. A lot of people look down their noses at you.
“Some people are disgusted but most people are good about it.
“I’ve been told they are very versatile and that he could be released back into the wild but their average lifespan in the wild is just 18 months - they either get shot, poisoned, snared or hunted.”
The RSPCA, however, have said they do not recommend keeping foxes domestically.
“Legally, there is no restriction on keeping foxes as pets in England and Wales, but foxes have not been domesticated and a fox in captivity would have the same needs as in the wild.
“If a fox is taken into captivity, then it will be protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
“The RSPCA feels that because foxes are wild animals and do not fare well as domestic pets, they should not be kept as such.
“Even the most experienced fox experts have had difficulty in keeping adult foxes successfully in captivity as they have very specific needs.
“Rescued fox cubs can be reared and returned to the wild but they need to be reared in a way that doesn’t habituate them to people, otherwise they would not be able to fend for themselves or may run into trouble when released.
“Because foxes are wild animals their needs are very specific and they require specialist care.
“Therefore, the RSPCA would not advise or condone keeping them as pets.”