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The Red Fox

Nomad of the North

Red foxes live around the world in many diverse habitats including forests, grasslands, mountains, and deserts. They also adapt well to human environments such as farms, suburban areas, and even large communities. The red fox's resourcefulness has earned it a legendary reputation for intelligence and cunning.

Red foxes are solitary hunters who feed on rodents, rabbits, birds, and other small game-but their diet can be as flexible as their home habitat. Foxes will eat fruit and vegetables, fish, frogs, and even worms. If living among humans, foxes will opportunistically dine on garbage and pet food.

Like a cat's, the fox's thick tail aids its balance, but it has other uses as well. A fox uses its tail (or "brush") as a warm cover in cold weather and as a signal flag to communicate with other foxes.

Foxes also signal each other by making scent posts-urinating on trees or rocks to announce their presence.

In winter, foxes meet to mate. The vixen (female) typically gives birth to a litter of 2 to 12 pups. At birth, red foxes are actually brown or gray. A new red coat usually grows in by the end of the first month, but some red foxes are golden, reddish-brown, silver, or even black. Both parents care for their young through the summer before they are able to strike out on their own in the fall.

Red foxes are hunted for sport, though not extensively, and are sometimes killed as destructive pests or frequent carriers of rabies.

Red fox description

The size of a small dog, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest member of the genus Vulpes and is well-known for its large bushy tail, which is often tipped with white . The fur is variable in colour , but is usually reddish-brown to flame-red above and white to black below ; the lower limbs and the back of the ears are often black .

Red fox biology

The red fox is typically active at dusk (crepuscular) or at night (nocturnal), but is often active in the day in more undisturbed areas . The diet is extremely broad, and includes small mammals, many invertebrates, and birds, as well as fruit, carrion and items scavenged from dustbins, bird tables and compost heaps .

Red fox range

Distributed throughout the northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle in the north, as far south as north Africa , including much of North America, all of Europe and most of Asia, including Japan . The red fox is found practically everywhere in mainland Britain, as well as on many islands .

Red fox habitat

This highly adaptable species is found in many habitats, from sand dunes to mountain tops . The red fox also occurs in urban areas , and seems to fare particularly well in affluent suburbs .

Red fox status

The red fox is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List .

Red fox threats

Foxes are perceived as important predators of ground nesting birds, gamebirds, and livestock, and are therefore widely controlled . Most deaths are caused by road accidents, shooting and other methods of control, and secondary poisoning may also be a factor resulting in mortality . Furthermore, foxes are hunted with hounds in Britain; this is a contentious issue .

Red fox conservation

The red fox is legislatively widely regarded as vermin and is therefore unprotected . In Britain, it is protected by closed seasons against hunting . No conservation measures are in place . Research into fox predation and control is being carried out by the Game Conservancy Trust .

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Glossary

Carrion
The flesh of a dead animal.
Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.

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