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Red Fox image
Red Fox

Red Fox

(Mammal)

Red Fox Baby
Red Fox Baby

Red Fox Habits

Red foxes are most active during the hours between midnight and dawn. Even in big cities, foxes can be seen in vacant lots or on undeveloped land. Their calls can be heard most often during the mating season, in January or February. Another sign that foxes are in the area is the presence of their distinctive paw prints. By learning to recognize a particular fox by an identifying characteristic, such as its particular coloring, you can more readily observe and take note of its habits.
For thousands of years, man has hunted the red fox for its fur. In England, in particularly, foxes are hunted with fox hounds, a practice that many people regard as inhumane. Traditionally, the fox has been considered a pest by farmers because it preys on poultry, although today it rarely gets the chance. Foxes do, however, scavenge on the afterbirth and carcasses of stillborn lambs. Foxes can cary the dangerous rabies virus. In parts of Europe, where many wild animals suffer from the disease, attempts have been made to eradicate rabid red fox populations.

Red Fox Communication

Red foxes use a variety of methods to communicate with each other. During the mating season, the female will make a squealing noise, and the males will bark in return. They also use different sounds to communicate with all year long--in fact, over 28 vocalizations have been distinguished. Foxes also use different facial expressions and their bushy tails to communicate. Scent marking is used to establish territory and to mark areas that have been searched for food. Foxes also use urine to signal their presence to other foxes.

Red Fox Breeding

The red fox is a solitary animal, except during the breeding season. Most of the day is spent in the den or above ground in cozy hollows called kennels. Foxes usually mate in winter. Because of their short lifespan, females, or vixens, breed two or three times, and males, called dogs, usually mate only once.
Vixens are sometimes helped in rearing their cubs by a sister or a female cub from the previous litter. The male is not allowed into the den just prior to the birth. After the birth he is allowed to bring food to the family. The cubs' eyes and ears open after two weeks, and they first emerge from the den at four weeks. The cubs are boisterous and curious, and they grow quickly. By September they weigh as much as their parents and they rapidly develop their hunting skills. Many cubs die before they are able to mate at the age of 10 months. They are killed by predators, some are hit by cars, and others die of starvation or of exposure.

Red Fox Food & Feeding

Foxes are nocturnal animals whose nighttime vision is expecially acute. Behind the light-sensitive cells in a fox's eye lies another layer of cells called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through the eye, increasing the sharpness of its vision and better allowing it to spot prey. The fox's sensitive hearing also enables it to locate prey easily. It can pick up low-frequency sounds, such as a mouse rustling in the grass or earthworms moving on the surface of the soil.

Red Fox Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: Males, 45 in. Females, 42 in
              Weight: Males, 13 lb. Females, 11 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 10 months
             Mating: January
             Gestation: 53-63 days
             Number of young: Usually 4 or 5 cubs
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Nocturnal; complex family life, but may live as solitary animals
            Diet: Earthworms, rabbits, birds, rodents, insects, and fruit
            Lifespan: Average only 18 months to 2 years in the wild. Up to 15 years in captivity

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Foxes have whiskers on both their legs and their faces. These help them find their way.
  • Fox cubs have short noses and resemble puppies when they are born.
  • A fox's eye appears to be green when light shines into them at night.
  • The fox's tail is called a brush, and it becomes thicker in the winter.
  • The fox does not chew. Instead it uses its carnassial, or shearing, teeth to cut meat into digestible chunks.

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