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Red Fox: Vulpes vulpes

Appearance:

The red fox has the appearance of a small dog and weighs from 10 to 15 pounds and measures up to 2 feet long not including its long, bushy tail.  The red fox is most commonly a rusty red, with white underbelly, black ear tips and legs, and the tail usually has a distinctive white tip. The red tone can vary from dark chestnut to golden. Because the gray fox  (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) frequently has a lot of red hair, it may be confused with the red fox.

Habitat:

Red fox range has expanded across Florida and they are now considered naturalized.  A naturalized species is a species not native to an area but has adapted and established a stable or expanding population and does not require human assistance for survival and reproduction.[1] 

The red fox is normally found in uplands mixed with fields and weedy pastures.  Unlike the gray fox, it avoids heavily wooded areas.

Behavior:

The red fox is essentially a nocturnal animal. While it may occasionally feed during the day, it is more likely to be active at dawn or dusk. They mainly eat small mammals such as rabbits, rats, and mice.  If food is plentiful, they may kill more than they immediately need, and cache the extra in the ground. 

Breeding takes place in late fall or early winter. A pair usually mates for life. An average of 5 pups are born after a gestation period of about 53 days.  At birth the pups are blind, helpless, and brownish-black. They nurse for about two months and stay with the adults for about 6 months.  The red fox usually digs its own burrow, though sometimes they enlarge a gopher tortoise or armadillo burrow.  The dens are usually 20 to 40 feet long and 3 to 4 deep with multiple entrances.

Additional Information:

 

[1] Society for Range Management. 1998. Glossary of terms used in range management, fourth edition.

Living with Foxes Adobe PDF


Image Credit: USFWS



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