Creature Feature

Creature Feature – The Red Fox

Posted by  //  April 12, 2018  //  Articles, Creature Feature

An adult red fox averages 8-15 pounds and is typically 48-57” long, but its trademark brushy tail makes up nearly half of that length.  Its orange coat is usually more vibrant in the winter time. Like a house cat, its pupils are vertically oriented. A male fox is called a “dog,” and the female is a “vixen.”  They keep a year-round territory and mate for life. Offspring are called “kits” and are born blind and helpless. Both parents care for, and are notably patient with, their young.  Primarily nocturnal, you may see red foxes in the daytime, as they hunt to meet the demands of hungry kits. Common prey includes mice, squirrels, woodchucks, rabbits and ground nesting birds and their eggs, as well as amphibians, reptiles and fruit.  “Mousing” is a characteristic hunting behavior whereby the fox freezes in place, keenly focused on a tiny sound or movement in the grass or snow. Suddenly, it leaps straight up, and then pounces down upon its prey. Mischievous and playful, red foxes will toss around balls on golf courses and frolic much like dogs.  While it is not normal behavior for them to approach people or pets, there have been documented accounts of quirky friendships struck up between foxes and other species, including dogs and cats. The average lifespan of a red fox in the wild is only a few years. Natural predators include bobcats and coyotes; but domestic dogs also kill foxes, as do humans through hunting, trapping, the fur trade and collisions with cars.  Unfortunately, red foxes are susceptible to parasitic mange, distemper and rabies.

Article and photo by Margie Manthey

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