1The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the most widely distributed and populous dogs in the world, having colonised large parts of Europe, America, Asia and Africa. It was also introduced into Australia in the 1800’s for recreational hunting although some sources suggest it was to help control the spread of Rabbits.
The Fox is a remarkably resourceful creature, able to cope in a very wide range of different environmental conditions, from sub-tropical regions to icy tundra the red fox is able to find food and keep warm.
In the UK the red fox feeds mainly on small rodents such as field mice, rabbits and voles but will eat almost anything it finds, often eating carrion or preying on new-born lambs in the spring. This resourcefulness is one of the main reasons they’ve been able to populate our towns and cities with great success. They are superb hunters, able to sprint, turn and jump with surprising ease for dog.
Foxes are the smallest members of the dog family, with the adult red fox being around 75cm long from head to tail and weighing around five kilograms fully grown. Environmental conditions determine how long a wild fox lives, usually around 7-10 years but in captivity they can live to a similar age as pet dogs at around 15 years.
Red Foxes mate during the winter months with the pair staying together to act as parents to the new born kits after a gestation period of between 51 and 53 days. The kits are born blind and stay in the den for several weeks before venturing out to play and follow their parents, after three months the cubs are left to fend for themselves, helped by the abundance of food to be found during the long summer months, they receive sexual maturity roughly a year after birth.
Foxes are considered a pest by many farmers although it is difficult to judge their impact on the land, they do provide a service in keeping rabbit and rat numbers in check and are thought to only go after ill and dead lambs. The banning of fox hunting in the UK could actually bring a downturn in foxes due to the potential for increasing numbers being shot or poisoned as hunting never took a major toll on numbers.
The fox is not under threat in any of its range due to the ability to cope well around humans, with urban foxes keeping up mystique of being clever and cunning by being able to eke out a living even in central London and other urban centres.