Frequently mistaken for being members of the Canidae family, which includes dogs, wolves, and jackals, foxes are omnivorous mammals which are light on their feet. Furthermore, they are unique from some of their close relatives due to their pointed nose, lithe frame, bushy tail, and long, thin legs.
Foxes are found all over the world, that is, North Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe, as well as being living flexible lives and being very social. Additionally, they live in a broad spectrum of terrains, plus have a diet which varies greatly.
Majority of foxes usually are about the same size almost the same as medium-sized dogs, and due to their smaller stature, these mammals are relatively light. The weight of a fox ranges between 1.5 to 24 pounds, with the Fennec fox being the smallest living fox, growing to about 9 inches and weighing 2.2 to 3.3 pounds, a size no bigger than a cat as states by National Geographic. Moreover, some fox species can grow to about 34 inches long from their heads to flanks, with their tails adding an extra 12 to 22 inches in the fox’s length.
Generally, foxes live in forested regions, although they can also be found in deserts, grasslands, and mountains. Foxes make their homes by tunneling burrows on the ground, with these burrows known as dens which offer the fox with a secure location to give birth to their pups, an excellent place to store food and provide a cool place to sleep. Moreover, the dug burrows have enough room to comfortably accommodate the fox and its family, with the dens having numerous exits as escape routes in the event a predator enters the den.
Being very social creatures, foxes live in packs which are known as a leash, earth or skulk according to the United States’ Department of Interior. Also, a group of foxes is known as a pack. However, no matter what you refer to the group of foxes by, foxes like sticking with family members, with a leash often consisting of mothers, siblings, foxes of breeding age and mates. The male foxes are called tod, reynards or dogs, whereas female foxes are referred to as vixens.
Foxes are nocturnal creatures and consequently prefer hunting during the night, thus meaning they sleep during the day. However, this can vary, usually depending on where the pack of fox lives, that is, if they are in a location where they feel secure, the pack of fox usually hunts during the day according to the National Parks and Wildlife Services of Ireland.
Foxes have excellent eyesight, and their vision is just as high as that of a cat, primarily due to their pupils being vertically slit like how a cat’s eyes are.
Additionally, foxes are swift and can run at speeds of up to 45 mph. This speed is almost the same as that of the Blackbuck antelope which is one of the fastest animals in the world.
Since they feed on both vegetation and meat, foxes are omnivorous creatures, with its diet mainly comprising of tiny animals such as voles, lizards, rabbits, mice, rats, and hares. According to the Smithsonian, they round out their diet with fruits, bugs and birds, and foxes which live close to the ocean feeding on crabs and fish as well. In case food is scarce, foxes have no issue raiding trash cans in search for scraps to eat.
Usually, foxes can eat up to several pounds of food in a day, and when they do not eat the food, they store their food frequently under the snow or leaves to feed on later.
The babies of a fox are known as pups, and during the mating season, female foxes cry out to notify male foxes that she is ready for mating. Female foxes will subsequently make a nest using leaves after mating inside her burrow where she will give birth to her pups, with this special room known as a nesting chamber.
The gestation period, which a female carries her pups for a gestation period of 53 days, and subsequently gives birth to a litter of typically two to seven puppies. The caring of the pups is a family affair with both the father and mother taking care of the pups. Furthermore, older siblings also assist in taking care of the younger sisters and brothers by frequently fetching them food.
According to Animal Diversity Web, the lifespan of a fox is very short in the wild frequently living approximately three years. However, in captivity, foxes live much longer, for instance, in zoos, they have a lifespan of between 10 to 12 years.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature stated the majority of the fox species are not threatened. Nevertheless, the union’s Red List of Threatened Species comprises Sechuran foxes and island gray foxes which are both near endangered as well as Darwin’s fox which is threatened. It is approximated that the mature Darwin fox population in their habitat Chile is fewer than 2,500. Also, according to the IUCN, domestic dog attacks plus related diseases are the main threats.
Foxes are typically monogamous creatures, thereby meaning that they only have one mat in their entire life. Additionally, they take on the help of nannies in raising their pups, with these nannies usually female foxes which are not breeders. However, in some cases, one male fox may have numerous female mates, and when this is the case, these females live together in the same den.
Just like humans, foxes can identify the voices of each other just like humans, with the red fox having 28 different sounds which they use in communication. Also, these vocalizations include howls, growls, and yips.
Due to the fox’s small and lean body of a Red Fox, they can run at speeds of about 30mph.