Red Fox

Banner 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 likable 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!

SCIENTIFIC NAME
Vulpes vulpes

CLASS
Mammalia

FAMILY
Canidae

DIET
Fruit, birds, mammals, reptiles, carrion (decaying animals), insects

SIZE
6–30 lbs, 2-3 ft long

HABITAT & RANGE
Forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains, urban and rural areas throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere

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.
  • While red foxes can live up to 15 years in a zoological setting, their lifespan in the wild is much shorter at about 3-5 years. This is due to pressures like predation, competition for resources, and hunting/trapping.
  • Female red foxes, known as vixens, are able to have pups at as young as 10 months of age. Vixens have their pups in spring, then the vixen and her mate will care for their 2-7 pups until fall. Then the young foxes will seek out their own territories.
  • Maymont is home to a red fox. He was brought to Maymont after he was deemed unreleasable because he imprinted on humans.

Adopt an Animal

Did you know it takes $500,000 each year to feed and care for the animals at Maymont? Your support of the Maymont Adopt an Animal Program helps provide food, care and enrichment to keep the rescued animals active, healthy and engaged.