Critter Corner - Red Fox
DID YOU KNOW:
Though foxes and coyotes are
found across North America, they generally do not inhabit the
same areas. Foxes accept living closer to humans, so they
might be found in city parks, greenways and even in cemeteries.
Foxes are primarily carnivores. Rabbits and rodents make
up most of their diet. A fox eats about a pound of meat at
each feeding. When food is plentiful, a fox may kill more
than it can eat and bury the extra in the ground, or cover it
with grass or leaves. Sometimes the fox will return to its
cache and find the food was eaten by another fox, crows, skunks
or opossums. The fox is mostly active at night but may
hunt early to catch active prey. If rodents and rabbits
are scarce, the fox may eat fruits and insects.
Baby foxes are called kits.
In March or April, mom fox gives birth to four to six kits.
At birth, the kits are helpless and
dependent upon mom. Their eyes are closed and they can't
hear. At 8 days of age, their eyes are open; at 8 weeks,
their grayish/yellowish fur is replaced by reddish-brown fur
like their parents'. Then the young start hunting with
their parents and at 5 months go out on their own. The
make fox may bring food to the young and defend them from
Red foxes may be found
throughout most of the United States
Canada. They prefer living at the forest edge near open
land. Most of the year the fox has no special home, so it
just curls up and sleeps on the ground. A mother fox finds
an old woodchuck hole, rock cavity or large hollow log on the
sunny side of a hill to use as a den to raise her family.
Humans, large dogs and wolves
are the fox's biggest enemies. Because they cannot
overpower a large dog, foxes avoid fighting. Instead, they
try to outsmart and trick the predator. Both in folklore
and by observation red foxes are considered crafty. The
chased fox may backtrack on his own trail or cross into water so
his scent is lost to the predator. Foxes are good swimmers
and have very sharp teeth and claws.
Red foxes have a scent
gland at the base of the tail. The skunk like odor
from the scent gland is used to communicate the foxes'
presence to other foxes.
Red foxes aren't always
red. They may be any shade from pale strawberry blond
to very dark brown.
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
Red fox, National Parks Service; Fox in snow, photographer
William F. Dunmire, National Parks Service; Fox Kits, US Fish
and Wildlife Services Digital Library; Baby emerging from den,
US Fish and Wildlife Services Digital Library)