Red Fox

Natural History

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) can be found throughout North America and much of the northern hemisphere including central Asia and northern Africa. Their resilience and ability to adapt has allowed them to flourish in various environments such as forests, tundra, prairies, deserts, mountains, and even urban areas. Their adaptability is due mostly to the flexibility of their natural diet. As omnivores, they feed on rodents, rabbits, birds, other small game, fish, frogs, and fruits and vegetables.

While red foxes can live up to 15 years in a zoological setting, their lifespan in the wild is substantially shorter at about three years. This is due to predation, competition for resources, and hunting/trapping either for sport or wildlife pest control. Such a short lifespan in the wild means that vixens (females) reach sexual maturity at around 10 months of age. Breeding occurs in the winter, and the vixen typically gives birth to a litter of two to 12 pups in the spring. Both parents care for the pups until the fall, at which point the pups disperse and find their own territories. Red foxes are solitary hunters and each territory only has one adult male and one to two adult females.

Due to the red fox’s long history and interactions with humans, they have become iconic characters in classic literature throughout the world. They are often depicted as mischievous, wily, and cunning – all the while still being likeable or even loveable. Even the old adage “crazy like a fox” is meant to describe someone as peculiar or foolish, but actually very clever. Here at Maymont, we simply celebrate and appreciate them for all of their natural talents!

Fun Facts

  • Red foxes can come in a variety of colors including black and a light blonde color. They are still red foxes, though, it is just a variation in their coat color.
  • Foxes have a really strong smell that some may mistake for a skunk. This is one reason why they do not make great pets!
  • Foxes have over 28 different vocalizations and individuals have their own unique calls.

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