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Red fox
Temporal range:
Mid-Pleistocene–Recent
Fox study 6.jpg
A red fox, photographed at the
British Wildlife Centre Surrey
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Class:
Order:
Family:
Tribe:
Genus:
Binomial name
Vulpes vulpes
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Cypron-Range Vulpes vulpes.svg
Distribution of the red fox. Basically, they are all over the northern hemisphere
Vulpes vulpes sitting
A red fox sitting
Fuchs Profil
European red fox
RenardCrâne
Vulpes vulpes- skull

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a mammal of the order Carnivora. It is the largest and most well-known species of fox. Red foxes are sometimes hunted for sport, or killed as pests or carriers of rabies.

Evolution

The red fox is considered a more specialised form of fox than the Afghan, corsac and Bengal foxes. It is, however, not as adapted for a purely carnivorous diet as the Tibetan fox.








Arctic foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXVI).jpg



Kit foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXV).jpg





Corsac foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXVII).jpg




Rüppell's foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXXV).jpg



Red foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXII).jpg






Cape foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXXIII).jpg





Blanford's foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXXI).jpg



Fennec foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XXXVI).jpg





Raccoon dogNyctereutes procyonoides (white background).png





Bat-eared foxDogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes BHL19827472 white background.jpg





Description

Build

Yawning red and corsac fox
Red fox (left) and corsac fox (right) yawning

The red fox has an elongated body and relatively short limbs. The tail, which is longer than half the body length (70 per cent of head and body length), is fluffy and reaches the ground when in a standing position.

They are very agile, being capable of jumping over 2-metre-high (6 ft 7 in) fences, and swim well.

Their canine teeth are relatively long.

Dimensions

Wolf vs fox
Size comparison between a wolf and a Red Fox

On average, adults measure 35–50 cm (14–20 in) high at the shoulder and 45–90 cm (18–35 in) in body length with tails measuring 30–55.5 cm (11.8–21.9 in). The ears measure 7.7–12.5 cm (3–5 in) and the hind feet 12–18.5 cm (5–7 in).

Weights range from 2.2–14 kg (5–31 lb), with vixens typically weighing 15–20% less than males.

They trot at a speed of 6–13 km/h (4–8 mph), and have a maximum running speed of 50 km/h (30 mph). They have a stride of 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in) when walking at a normal pace.

The largest red fox on record in Great Britain was a 17.2 kg (38 lb), 1.4-metre (4 ft 7 in) long male, killed in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in early 2012.

Fur

North American Red Fox
North American red fox in winter
Vulpes vulpes colour variations
Various red fox colour morphs

The winter fur is dense, soft, silky and relatively long. For the northern foxes, the fur is very long, dense and fluffy, but is shorter, sparser and coarser in southern forms.

There are three main colour morphs; red, silver/black and cross (see Mutations).

In the red morph, their coats are generally bright reddish-rusty with yellowish tints. The lower back is often a mottled silvery colour. The flanks are lighter coloured than the back, while the chin, lower lips, throat and front of the chest are white. The remaining lower surface of the body is dark, brown or reddish. The upper parts of the limbs are rusty reddish, while the paws are black. The frontal part of the face and upper neck is bright brownish-rusty red, while the upper lips are white. The backs of the ears are black or brownish-reddish, while the inner surface is whitish. The top of the tail is brownish-reddish, but lighter in colour than the back and flanks. The underside of the tail is pale grey with a straw-coloured tint. A black spot, the location of the supracaudal gland, is usually present at the base of the tail. The tip of the tail is white.

Senses

Red foxes have binocular vision, but their sight reacts mainly to movement. Their hearing is acute, being able to hear black grouse changing roosts at 600 paces, the flight of crows at 0.25–0.5 kilometres (0.16–0.31 mi) and the squeaking of mice at about 100 metres (330 ft). Their sense of smell is good, but weaker than that of specialised dogs.

Communication

Foxes also communicate with each other by urinating on trees or rocks, like dogs sometimes do. Its back, sides, and head are usually covered with orangish-red fur, and its neck and chest are covered with white fur. Its legs and paws are normally black.

Hunting behavior and diet

Red fox with nutria
Red fox with coypu.

Red foxes hunt alone. Because they are carnivorous, they feed on rodents, birds, rabbits, and other small animals. However, some red foxes eat fruit and vegetables, fish, frogs, and even worms. The red fox will continue to hunt even when it is full. It stores leftover food to eat later. When they are raised by humans domestically, they can also eat pet food. Red Foxes hunt mostly at night, sunset, and dawn.

When prey has been detected, the fox crouches low to the ground and moves towards it, while attempting to minimize any noise or visual warnings. During the approach, the fox´s eyes remain on its prey. A chase starts once the fox has been seen, the prey escaping through dense bushes, or in the fox disabling it by biting it in the legs.

Mating

Red fox kit 3 (Vulpes vulpes)
European red fox kit in Oxfordshire

Red foxes usually mate in the winter. The vixen (female fox) normally gives birth to a litter of 2 to 12 pups. When red foxes are born, they are brown or gray. Although a new red coat usually grows in one month, some red foxes have other colored coats such as golden, reddish-brown, silver, or even black. The mother of the pups feed them at first by regurgitating food into their mouths.

Sleep

Young Red Fox sleeping
Red Fox sleeping

Foxes generally do not sleep in dens unless they are females who are giving birth to or raising cubs. Female foxes seek out dens made by other animals, like rabbits or badgers, but will dig their own den if necessary. Foxes in the wild curl up in a ball out in the open to sleep, keeping warm by covering themselves with bushy tails. Foxes live in urban areas sleep under structures such as sheds.

Habitat

Red fox distibution
Distribution of the red fox today

It is native to America, Asia, and Europe. It was introduced to Australia in the 19th century.

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