Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes

 

COREL

The Red Fox is one of our few mammal predators. Wolves and Mountain Lions have long been extinct in Virginia.

The Red Fox has rusty, reddish fur with a white chin, throat, and belly. The tip of its tail is also white.

Red Foxes have pointy ears and a bushy tail. They can stand 16 inches tall and be about three and a half feet long. They weigh up to 15 pounds. Red Foxes look very much like dogs, which they are related to.

Red Foxes are shy animals, so you will rarely see them. They are most active at night.

The Red Fox lives alone until mating season.

Copyright, Archbold Biological Station

Copyright, Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences

After mating, foxes will make a maternity den for raising young. Most often they will find and enlarge an old woodchuck burrow. Sometimes it will be in a hollow log, streambank, rockpile, cave, or dense shrub.

The den is usually chosen at a place where there is raised ground so the foxes can see all around. The main entrance will be approximately three feet wide, and the den will have one or two escape holes.

The den is lined with grass and dry leaves.

A Red Fox litter can have anywhere from one to ten pups.

When the fox pups are old enough to eat meat, the mother will regurgitate (throw up) meat she has eaten for them. Later, she will bring live prey she has caught so they can learn how to kill. Next, they will be able to go on a hunt with their parents.

Red fox pups leave the den to be on their own when they are about seven months old. Once the young have left, the parents will separate and go off on their own.

Copyright, COREL

Red Foxes eat whatever is available. They are actually omnivores and eat many things besides meat. Their main food, however, is small mammals, including: mice, voles, shrews, moles, squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, opossums, raccoons, skunks, muskrats, and beaver. Other meats they consume include: waterfowl, turkey, and other birds, turtles, lizards, snakes, crayfish, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects. When available, foxes will also eat grapes, acorns, cherries, berries, grasses, sedges, nuts, and other vegetation. Red Foxes will eat carrion (previously dead animals) and will occasionally kill someone's pet dog or cat.

Foxes hunt by stalking. They carefully get as close to the animal as possible, and then try to run it down.

Red Foxes also have excellent hearing. They can hear underground digging, gnawing, or rustling of small mammals. Once it has pinpointed the location of its prey, the fox will dig it up.

Red Foxes hunt mostly at night, sunset, and dawn.

Red Foxes are believed to have few predators themselves. Hawks and owls probably take very young foxes if they can get them.

Red Foxes do not hibernate. They hunt year round and only den after mating. Females will often use the same maternity den for several years.

Mark Moran

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Red Fox Howl
Sound
Unknown
Red Fox Warning
Sound
Unknown
Red Fox Coloring Page
Link to Printable Page
EnchantedLearning.com

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Meadow Vole

Great Horned Owl

Smooth Sumac

Woodchuck SP

Least Shrew

Red-tailed Hawk

Bracken Fern

American Dog Tick Pa

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Human

Greenbrier

Black Cherry D

Eastern Cottontail

Sarcoptic Mange Mite

Pokeweed

Wild Grape D

Raccoon

Common Cattail

Highbush Blueberry D

Striped Skunk

Loblolly Pine

American Holly D

Muskrat

Common Reed

Blue Bottle Fly Pa

Beaver

Green Hawthorn

Pokeweed D

Virginia Opposum

Wild Grape D

Common Crow

Sarcoptic Mange Mite Pa

Wild Turkey

Black Oak D

Black Rat Snake

Pear-shaped Puffball D

Five-lined Skink

Rabies Virus Pa

Crayfish

Spotted Jewelweed D

Eastern Box Turtle

Devil's Beggar-tick D

Black Oak

Eastern Hognose Snake SP

Black Cherry

Chigger Pa

Wild Grape

Dung Beetle FP

Differential Grasshopper

Norway Rat

Relationship to Humans:

In the past, people have accused foxes of many things and given them a bad reputation. Most often they were accused by farmers of killing chickens. While Red Foxes will occasionally take a chicken, the culprits are most often probably other animals.

Red Foxes actually do much more good than harm, including preying upon other predators of farm animals, such as snakes and raccoons. As one of the last high-level predators in our area, foxes are very important, along with owls and hawks, to prevent rodent populations from exploding.

Red Foxes do carry the Rabies disease, along with Raccoons, Oppossums, and Skunks, so you should be wary of them out in the open during the day.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Mammal
ORDER
Carnivore
FAMILY
Canidae
GENUS
Vulpes
SPECIES
Vulpes vulpes

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