Ever wanted a fox as a pet? Well, it might not be as far-fetched as you think.
50 years of experiments in the Soviet Union and Russia have resulted in the domesticated silver fox, the result of selective breeding.
The experiment was started in 1959 by scientists who in domesticating animals, much the same way that wolves became domesticated dogs.
Scientists believed that the main factor in the domestication of dogs was behavior and the ability to be tamed. They tested this theory in foxes, placing a population together under strong selection pressure. The foxes were then assigned classes, depending on their behavior and receptiveness towards the experimenters.
By the sixth generation of breeding, a higher-scoring category had to be used to determine the most suitable animals for domestication.
By the 20th generation of breeding, 35% of the foxes were considered elite class, a very high level of domestication. These foxes are now fundamentally different from their wild ancestors, displaying completely different behavior.
Physiological changes were also observed in the animals, which scientists have attributed to the low adrenalin levels in the animals which after a few generations, produces genetic combinations not seen in the original species.
While owning a fox as a pet does sound quite nifty, imagine what other animals could potentially be domesticated in the future. Pet hyena, anyone?