The beautiful red fox, with its bushy tail and dog-like face is an efficient nocturnal creature which has 48 sub-species of fox including colour variations termed silver or cross fox.
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Facts about foxes
- A fox’s den is normally a burrow underground, also known as an ‘earth’, but they can also live above ground in a cosy hollow.
- While they are solitary animals, during breeding season (winter) when they court and mate, the dog fox will support the female (vixen) by bringing food for the family (early spring).
- You can often hear the mating calls, which is a sharp, high-pitched shrieking/screaming noise, which can sound quite terrifying.
- Vixens are occasionally assisted in rearing their cubs by a non-breeding sister or a female cub from a previous litter. These ‘aunts’ gain valuable experience which helps them to rear their own litter successfully the next season. Occasionally there can be two dog fox’s associated with one vixen.
- The cubs’ eyes and ears open after two weeks and at four weeks they will emerge from their dens. They have short noses which resemble puppies when born. However, many cubs die prematurely due to other predators (dogs, badgers), but their worst predator is the motor vehicle. They also can die of starvation or cold during hard winters.
- They catch small rodents with a characteristic high pounce. This technique is one of the first things cubs learn as they begin to hunt.
- Did you know that foxes have whiskers on their legs as well as around their faces, which they use to help them find their way?
- Foxes have also been known to climb trees and settle on low branches.
- Foxes are great night-time predators because their eyes are specially adapted to night vision. Behind the light sensitive cells lies another layer called the tapetum lucidum which reflects light back through the eye. This doubles the intensity of images received by the fox. Their eyes glow green when light is shone into them at night.
- The fox does not chew its food. Instead it uses its carnassial or shearing teeth to cut the meat into manageable chunks.
- A fox’s range varies from 10 hectares in cities to over 2000 hectares in rural area.
- Foxes belong to the dog family, which includes wolves, coyotes, grey foxes, raccoon dogs and their relatives. All members of this family are incredibly adaptable animals, and this makes them successful colonisers in many areas of the world practically in all habitats available and often in close proximity to humans.
- They were introduced to Australia in the mid-19th century and are native to Europe, Asia and North Africa.
- There are native and non-native red foxes in North America; the native foxes are a Canadian Boreal Forest species that historically occurred in the northern regions of North America. They colonised there shortly after the last glacial period, around 11,000 years ago. The non-native species were released by early European settlers for hunting purposes, as early as the mid 1700s.
- Over the centuries the fox has been hunted for its fur (and its’ tail cut-off which is used as the hunters trophy, known as a ‘brush’).
- Foxes are also caught in snares by some farmers and gamekeepers.
- Foxhunting was banned in Scotland in 2002 and England and Wales in 2004 under the Hunting Act. However this law is under threat of being repealed. Find out about OneKind's Keep the Ban Alive campaign to protect foxes.
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