Vulpes vulpes The most common of all foxes, the red fox, is not always the classic red color. There are many different phase and color variations which give the red fox many different names such as the black fox, the cross fox, the samson fox, the silver fox, and then of course there are also albinos, which are often mistaken for the smaller, stockier arctic fox.
Shown in order below are the albino red fox, and the silver and the black phase is shown under apperance section.
A Note About the Red Fox
Formerly the red fox was Vulpes vulpes for the European variety and Vulpes fulva, the North American variety, but recently, Vulpes fulva has become a pretty well obsolete name and is rarely used anymore. Both varieties of red fox are now considered to be under the Vulpes vulpes name. The red fox was then considered to be a different species because of the fact that they are a cross breed. Red foxes were originally brought over to North America from Europe for hunting in the 1600's. Due to the humans' clumsiness, some of these foxes escaped and began a population of red foxes in this country. These escaped foxes did not have a big enough population to breed and exsist successfully. As a result, they began mating with the native gray fox, producing Vulpes fulva, the North American red fox. From the recent articles I've read, that name is no longer being used. I have heard it being reffered to as Vulpes vulpes fulva, which would make our American red fox, not a true red fox, but one of the 48 subspecies of the European red fox. I'll try to find more information on this.
Appearance And Physical Information
The red fox has many color variations as mentioned above. The black fox is of course, black and the silver fox, silvery-gray or black with silver guard hairs, but how about the other variations? The samson fox is unusual, it has no guard hairs and the underhairs are tightly curled! The cross fox or brant fox is the most unusual colored fox, it has markings that remind me of a german shepard. It is a tan or reddish color with a large grayish cross-shape over its back and shoulders. Fox farms have even reported a golden colored red fox with black grazing the tips of its fur, though this color variation has never been seen in the wild.
The red fox has elliptical eyes (like a cat's eyes). Vulpes foxes are the only species of canids that have this feature.
The mating season of the red fox is between December and April, though it varies with region and climate. It mates for life in the winter months once a year and after a gestation period of 51 days, it gives birth to 1-10 kits, the average being 3-4, in a den hollowed out by the female. Sometimes she will even use an abandoned den from another animal and just make it bigger to fit her need. If more than one female gives birth in a den, they will help to raise eachothers young, while the male fox hunts for food. After about two months, the kits are fully weaned. The family breaks up in autumn. The males leave at around 6 months old to start their own territory, usually travelling up to 18 miles. The females venture out later and usually create their own territories inside their parents' range. The vixen and dog fox (male) may then seperate or remain together. If they seperate, they tend to reunite in the next mating season. The dens are often used for many generations of the fox family. The red fox lives to be about 14 years old.
The red fox is often seen as crafty and cunning. It has been featured in many fables and is hunted because of the fact that it can "outfox" the hunters. When th European fox hunters came to America, they tried to hunt the gray fox, but it would run up a tree or hide and end the hunt before it ever began to give the hunters a thrill. This is why they imported the red fox. While the fox may be a cunning animal, it also has a playful side. It is charming and inquisitive and loves to run and pounce through the fields. It enjoys playing with its food. When it catches an animal, if it has had enough to eat, the fox will throw it up into the air and try to catch it. It is very adorable. :) The fox is also very shy and nervous, especially when it comes to being around humans. Red foxes eat insects, small mammals, fruit, and birds. They have a wide variety of things they will eat if neccesary, such as human garbage, pet food left outside, human waste, crops, and chickens. This is why they are thought of as vermin by some people. In the fox's defense, they wouldn't resort to this is their population was not invaded by the human population. Despite popular belief, foxes do not kill sheep and livestock. They are seen nearby while a livestock animsl is giving birth. The fox will eat a still born (born dead) animal and will eat the after birth when the animal has left. It will not kill a healthy livestock animal. It doesn't have the size or strength. The only animal it has the capabilities to catch are fowl, such as chickens or ducks. Of course, the fox would not be able to get to these animals if they were properly caged.
Habitat and Range
The red fox is very versatile. Despite the destruction of habitat it has faced, the fox still manages to survive. It has learned to make its home in cities and live there very contently. It lives in many types of habitats but likes to avoid deserts and very dense forests. The range of this fox is very wide. It lives in North America (both Canada and the US), Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and some of the Pacific Islands. The red fox was also introduced into Australia in the 19th cnetury to help control the population of rabbits which were also introduced by humans.
Didn't get enough pictures of the red fox? Click the "next fox" below!
*Picture's with *'s by Steve Geary and used with permission. In case you're curious, the albino fox is named Basil and the silver fox was named Freedom. Freedom passed away in his sleep from a tumor.