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Animal Fact File: Red Fox

Name: Red fox

Scientific Name: Vulpes Vulpes 

Description: The red fox is the largest fox species, and one of the widestdistributed. They have an elongated body, andrelatively short limbs and their skulls are narrow, though canine teeth long in relation tohead size. Their long tail is fluffy, and they are agile animals, being able to jump high and also swim. 

a small red fox in the woods

Species: Red foxes belong to the Vulpes genus of the Canidae, commonly referred to as true foxes. Canidae are a line of carnivorans that also include domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals and dingoes. 

Colouring: Red foxes are a rusty orange-red colour, with white chests and chins, and brown-black backs of ears and feet. A black spot can be foundat the base of the tail, and the tip of the tail is white. In winter, their fur is dense and soft, and foxes found further north is much fluffier. In summer, they shed their winter coat, so it is much less fluffy and coarser. 

Length: 45-90 cm in body length with tail length 30-55.5 cm 

Height: 35-50 cm

Weight: 3-14 kg, vixens weighing 15-20% less. 

Habitat: Red foxes are very widespread in the Northern Hemisphere and resourceful, making their homes in woods, farmland, sand dunes, bogs, mountains and in Britain are increasingly foundin urban areas. When breeding, they live in dens; burrowsdug into a hillor under tree routes, where the soil is well drained. 

Diet: Red foxes are carnivores, but can be classedas omnivores. In Britain, they eat small rodents such as mice, voles and rabbits, but will also eat birds, insects, berries, crayfish and small amphibians and reptiles. They are opportunistic, so will also eat carrion, prey on newbornanimals and chickens. Surplus food is buried. 

Breeding: Red foxes reproduce once a year in spring, with agestationof 49 to 58 days. Though they are mainly monogamous, there are indications of polygamy and incest in some populations. Litter size is four to six kits on average, with kits born blind, deaf and toothless, with dark brown fur. 

Lifespan: 2-4 years?

Top Speed: 31 mph

Other Facts:

  • Red foxes are mostly crepuscular, being most active at twilight, though in more urban areas are nocturnal. 
  • Foxes have vertical pupils, like cats, which helps them to see better at night. 
  • Red foxes are generally solitary hunters, foraging alone in the summer. 
  • Vixens are very protective of their kitsand have been known to fight off other animals. 
  • Foxes, male and female, will claim their ownterritory, as large as 19 sq miles, though in habitats with good food resources are smaller, around 4.6 sq miles. 
  • Red foxes are listedas least concern, due to their ability to cope around humans and wide range.
  • In Britain, foxes are often considered a pest by farmers, though it is difficult to judge their impact accurately– they keep rabbit and rat numbers low, though will attack weak lambs. 
  • Red foxes are considered the main predator of poultry, with the safest protection being fencing, though foxes are clever and can dig and jump. 
  • Red foxes have a wide vocal range to communicate with each other, such as barks, whines, growls and long screaming, commonly heard in the breeding season.
  • Male foxes are called dogs, females are vixens, andyoung foxes are kits.
  • The collective names for foxes are a leash, skulk or troop. 
  • Urban foxes have been around in Britain’s cities from the 1930s, and today it is estimated about 33,000 are urban foxes, about 14% of the population. 

Spotting a red fox in the countryside is exciting – and it is also a feature on many of our country gifts and country clothing! Take a look at our online shop for some lovely gifts for a country home!