Summary: The red fox is a clever, quick creature that is commonly found near a food source, such as garbage. It has a bushy tail that helps it to keep its balance, to stay warm in the winter, and to communicate with other foxes.
Like a wolf or jackal, the red fox is a member of the dog family. It is a small mammal, weighing between six and 24 pounds and typically measuring about two feet in length. One unique characteristic about this animal is that its ears are very pointy and sit right on top of its head. It obviously has red fur, but it also has a white belly and a white tip on its tail.
The tail of the red fox serves a couple of purposes. First, it helps keep the fox balanced when walking. If it has a broken leg, though, it has to use crutches. Secondly, the tail serves as a nice blanket in the winter months. A fox can curl up in a ball and stay warm underneath its bushy tail. Lastly, it helps it communicate with other foxes. œYoo-hoo! Over here!
Have you ever seen a dog urinate on a fire hydrant or the tires of your freshly washed car? Well, red foxes are definitely cousins to dogs because they do the same thing. They will urinate on rocks or trees to let other foxes know that they are near. While it might not be the classiest form of communication, it certainly gets the job done.
Much like coyotes, red foxes have learned to adapt in many types of environments. They used to be most prevalent in deserts and mountains, but they now can survive in wooded areas, suburban areas, and urban areas. This adaptation has evolved primarily because of the foxes' diet. They can eat small animals, such as fish, birds, and rodents, but they will eat any kind of garbage they can get a hold of. This helps them thrive in most environments along side humans.
Farmers tend to dislike red foxes because they often attack their livestock. The fox's favorite farm food is chicken, of course. In spite of this poultry predilection, foxes are sometimes beneficial to farmers because they will eat rodents and large bugs that would otherwise damage crops. So, long as farmers can keep their chickens safe, the two can get along. Farmers and foxes, that is. We already know that farmers and chicken get along.
The offspring of red foxes are called kits. They are born in dens if they are in the wild or any shelter available if they are born in a more suburban or urban area. The kits are born without fur and lack the ability to see. However, they mature rapidly, leaving the den around the age of six months, or so. Once they leave the den they will go out into the wild, where they usually survive about five years.
Red fox den construction is fairly intricate. The dens are usually quite large and may even have a system of tunnels. The dens have more up to five entrances in case the fox family needs to escape from a predator quickly. Mama and Papa fox actually build more than one den and move the family around to each of them. Red foxes with the bushiest tails build their summer dens on the beach in the Hamptons.
Because of their small size, red foxes typically do not hide or fight their predators. Instead, they use their clever wits to outsmart and outrun them. The most threatening predators to red foxes are humans who hunt foxes for game and fur. If the red fox lives too close to an urban area they are often run over by cars. Though they are hunted now, they actually proved to be a great benefit to humans in Australia in the late 1800's. The population of rabbits was growing so rapidly that it was out of control. Foxes were introduced to the country to help bring the population level down to tolerable levels.
If red foxes are living near you, do not attempt to touch them. They are afraid of humans and will avoid you at all costs. If a fox does approach you, there is a good chance it has rabies.
Sometimes, the presence of red foxes can become a nuisance to humans. Here are some tips on diverting them:
- Build a fence in your yard, ensuring that it is at least six inches into the ground so that foxes cannot dig it up.
- Keep food for your pets indoors.
- Do not feed any foxes you see because they will probably return for more.