Red Fox, wild member of the dog family found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widespread of all canines and the largest of all foxes. The red fox is known in folklore for its cleverness and cunning. Despite their reputation as a menace, red foxes play an important role by controlling rodents in agricultural areas.
Red foxes inhabit a wide variety of environments from the Arctic Circle to the equator. They are found in African deserts, the steppes of Asia, suburban neighborhoods of Europe, and farmland in North America. The red foxís range increased during the mid-1850s, when they were introduced to Australia for the sport of fox hunting and to help control an overpopulation of rabbits.
As their name suggests, red foxes are distinguished by their vivid reddish-brown fur. The underside of the head, neck, and belly is white, while the legs and feet are usually black. The bushy red tail is tipped with black or white. Desert-dwelling varieties are usually lighter in color, and some varieties, or subspecies, undergo a color phase in which the fur becomes silvery or black.
Red Fox picture: Red foxes tend to live near farmland, which provides them with good hunting ground and plenty of rodents, a staple of the foxís diet. Despite this tendency to live near civilization, the foxís keen senses and alertness keep it mostly inconspicuous to humans, who are potentially dangerous predators. As a result the red fox has been immortalized in folklore and in Aesopís fables for its craftiness and cunning.
Red foxes are 90 to 105 cm (36 to 42 in) long, not including the tail. On average, they weigh about 7 kg (about 15 lb). Males are slightly heavier than females, and red foxes in Europe tend to be heavier than red foxes in other parts of the world. The red foxís body is similar in shape to that of a dog, with the exception of its bushy tail. Like other foxes, the red foxís ears are very large in relation to the size of its head.
Depending on their habitat, red foxes may eat rodents and other small mammals, insects, chickens and other birds, eggs, fish, earthworms, or fruit. They can detect mice and rodents under a layer of snow with their keen hearing. If they obtain more food than they can immediately eat, they bury it in the ground for times when food is scarce. They also are scavengers and will raid garbage sites. Like other foxes, red foxes are typically most active at night.
Male red foxes share their territories with one to four females, called vixens. In most years, only the highest-ranking vixen, who is also the oldest, gives birth to cubs. A litter typically consists of four to eight young, born after a gestation period of 49 to 56 days. Other females take part in raising the litter, and the male brings food to the nursing mother. Foxes live in underground dens while they are raising their young, but at other times, they prefer to sleep outdoors.
Red foxes have been known to survive up to 14 years, but most of them have far shorter lives. Fox cubs, which are blind and helpless at birth, are extremely vulnerable to predators and often die during the first year of life. Humans are a major enemy of adult red foxes, hunting them for their fur and to prevent them from raiding hen houses. In Europe, red foxes are greatly threatened by the rabies virus. Despite these pressures, red fox populations are thriving, and in some parts of their range, red foxes are becoming more numerous.