Red fox

The Red Fox is the most widespread of all canids and can be found in many urban areas and rural areas of Great Britain, aswell as in many other areas of Europe and the world. Red Foxes can make their home in most settings although it may be easier to spot these creatures in urban settings, as they are more used to seeing humans, so are slightly tamer. Wild Red Foxes tend to live for between 2 and 6 years and are omnivorous opportunists, feeding on almost anything from road kill to food left out in your garden, but of course they will also hunt their own prey such as rabbits, mice and voles.

3 of 5 Red Fox Pup(s) Morro Bay, CA 26 May 2008

Image by mikebaird via Flickr

December to February is mating season for the Red Fox and you may hear the Vixen (the female) shrieking and calling and although it may sound eerie, they are in fact just searching for a mate.After 51 to 53 days the Vixen will give birth to between 4 and 6 pups (also called cubs or kits) in her den. The pups will be born blind and deaf and live on their mother’s milk for the first 4 – 5 weeks. They can start taking solid food after five weeks of age, being fully weaned about 2 – 4 weeks later.

Identification

  • Dog like appearance
  • More often seen at night
  • Long bushy tail with white tip
  • Generally a reddish brown coat (although some can be black or even albino!)
  • Large pointed ears

Latin name: Vulpes vulpes

Red Fox Pup(s) Morro Bay, CA 28 May 2008

Image by mikebaird via Flickr

In The Garden

Foxes have a very chequered relationship with humans and are the victims of many ‘third hand’ stories, so much so that many people have trouble separating fact from fiction. Foxes will unfortunately exploit the opportunity to take chickens or small pets if it they can, after all they are predators and trying to survive in wild, but if you make sure the opportunity doesn’t arise by taking simple steps such as securely locking up small pets and providing a fox proof run for your chickens, foxes should not cause you too many problems. Its extremely rare that a fox will bite or attack a human.

If you wish to encourage foxes into your garden you can start by providing food scraps or dog food and providing a place of shelter or letting a small sheltered part of your garden grow wild. Hopefully you will soon be rewarded by sightings of foxy behaviour and antics and perhaps even see a vixen with her family in tow. However be prepared to accept foxes doing the following in your garden: fouling, scent marking, digging and making lots of noise at night during the mating season!

Two red foxes.

Image via Wikipedia

Did You Know...?

  • Red Fox body sizes vary with the altitude, the further north you go the larger the fox
  • Fox pups are born blind with pink noses (which turn black within the first week of its life)
  • Foxes are not present in the Isle of Man
  • A group of Foxes is called a ‘Skulk’
Orgy