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Red Fox

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 to help control the spread of Rabbits

Red Fox

Red Fox

The red fox has long, pointed, erect ears and a narrow elongated muzzle. The dense soft pelage of the upper body and the tail is reddish yellow and darkest on the shoulders and back. The lower regions of the face, muzzle, throat, chest and belly are white. The moderately long, slender legs are black, as are the ears. The long, bushy tail has a white tip that characterizes the species. The forefoot has five claws, the hind foot four.

The male and female are similar in appearance. There are color phases of the red fox: red, black and intermediate range. Color phases are determined genetically. The tail of the red fox is used for balance and for keeping the nose warm while sleeping. There is a tail gland which exudes a “foxy” skunk-like odor.

The red fox exhibits a number of distinctly cat-like physiological features not found in other canid groups. Among these are semi-retractile claws, long thin canine teeth, a specialized eye structure (including a vertical-slit pupil) for goof nocturnal vision, and a fines sense of balance.

They will also eat birds and vegetation. Otters need about 3 square miles to find all of this food. Otters will hang out at a few of their favorite spots in this large area, depending on where the eating is good. They mark their territory using scent from their feces, urine, and musk.

Red Fox

Red Fox

The red fox is a quick, skillful hunter, feeding on a wide variety of foods. Mice are often eaten, especially during the winter months, and cottontail rabbits are also an important part of their diet. During the warmer months, red foxes also feed on various plants and insects. They remain active throughout the year but are primarily nocturnal, only occasionally coming out during the daylight hours.

Red foxes have the reputation of being cunning, but shy. Like most other members of the wild dog family, they seem to be quite intelligent and very adaptable, often learning to live quite close to humans.

The red fox is omnivorous and will eat almost anything. Small mammals make up a large portion of the winter diet and include moles, shrews, muskrats, voles and mice as well as hares. During the summer, it will also feed on birds’ eggs, some insects and vegetation such as grasses and berries.

Life Cycle:The annual estrous period of female red foxes last from 1 to 6 days. Ovulation is spontaneous and does not require copulation to occur. The exact time of estrous and breeding varies across the broad geographic range of the species: December-January in the south, January-February in the central regions, and February-April in the north. Males will fight during the breeding season.

Red Foxes

Red Foxes

Males have a cycle of fecundity, with full spermatogenesis only occurring from November to March. Females may mate with a number of males but will establish a partnership with only one male. Copulation usually lasts 15 or 20 minutes and is often accompanied by a vocal clamor. Implantation of the fertilized egg occurs between 10 and 14 days after a successful mating. Just before and for a time after giving birth the female remains in or around the den. The male partner will provision his mate with food but does not go into the maternity den.

Gestation is typically between 51 and 53 days but can be as short as 49 days or as long as 56 days. Litters vary in size from 1 to 13 pups with an average of 5. Birth weight is between 50 and 150 g. The pups are born blind but open their eyes 9 to 14 days after birth. Pups leave the den 4 or 5 weeks after birth and are fully weaned by 8 to 10 weeks. Mother and pups remain together until the autumn after the birth. Sexual maturity is reached by 10 months.

Red fox males and females, and sometimes their older offspring, cooperate to care for the pups. Young remain in the den for 4 to 5 weeks, where they are cared for and nursed by their mother. They are nursed for 56 to 70 days and are provided with solid food by their parents and older siblings. The young remain with their parents at least until the fall of the year they were born in and will sometimes remain longer, especially females. Red foxes have been known to live 10 to 12 years in captivity but live on average 3 years in the wild.

Predation: Most red foxes that are taken by natural predators are young pups. Pups are kept in and near a den and protected by their family to avoid this. Adult red foxes may also be attacked by coyotes, wolves, or other predators, but this is rarely in order to eat them. The most significant predators on red foxes are humans, who hunt foxes for their fur and kill them in large numbers as pests.

Red Foxes

Red Foxes

Red fox are host to a wide variety of parasites, both internal and external. Internal parasites range from protozoans to roundworms and tapeworms. Of particular importance in New York State are heartworms, a roundworm found in the right ventricle of many canids that is only transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

Red fox are very susceptible to mange, a disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabei. Mange mites burrow into the skin, thereby causing irritation, skin thickening (hyperkeratosis), and hair loss. Infected individuals may make it through the summer months, but quickly succumb to hypothermia once winter arrives.

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