Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes

Summary 4

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest of the true foxes and the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America and Asia. Its range has increased alongside human expansion, having been introduced to Australia, where it is considered harmful to native mammal and bird populations. Because of these factors, it is listed as Least Concern for extinction.

The red fox originated from smaller-sized ancestors from Eurasia during the Middle Villafranchian period,[4] and colonised North America shortly after the Wisconsin glaciation.[5] Among the true foxes, the red fox represents a more progressive form in the direction of carnivory.[6] Apart from its large size, the red fox is distinguished from other fox species by its ability to adapt quickly to new environments. Despite its name, the species often produces individuals with other colourings, including albinos and melanists.[7] Forty-five subspecies are currently recognised,[8] which are divided into two categories: the large northern foxes, and the small, basal southern foxes of Asia and the Middle East.[9]
Red foxes are the most widely distributed wild carnivores in the world, occurring in North America, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. They are also widespread in Australia, where they were introduced in about 1850 so that fox-hunters would have something to hunt. Their range in North America has expanded since colonial times as their competitors, wolves, were eliminated, but their range has also contracted in areas where they are in competition with coyotes. Red foxes prey on voles, rabbits, hares, and other small mammals, and also eat birds, fruits, and invertebrates even beetles and earthworms. A male female pair typically inhabits a territory, and older, usually female, siblings help care for the younger offspring by bringing them food. Red foxes are among the main carriers and victims of rabies.

Red foxes are usually together in pairs or small groups consisting of families, such as a mated pair and their young, or a male with several females having kinship ties. The young of the mated pair remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits.[10] The species primarily feeds on small rodents, though it may also target leporids, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates[11] and young ungulates.[12] Fruit and vegetable matter is also eaten sometimes.[13] Although the red fox tends to kill smaller predators, it is vulnerable to attack from larger predators, such as wolves, coyotes, golden jackals and medium- and large-sized felines.[14]

The species has a long history of association with humans, having been extensively hunted as a pest and furbearer for centuries, as well as being represented in human folklore and mythology. Because of its widespread distribution and large population, the red fox is one of the most important furbearing animals harvested for the fur trade.[15]

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) matt knoth, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), http://www.flickr.com/photos/18158503@N00/2999079757
  2. (c) Dave C, all rights reserved, uploaded by nataliemarisa, http://eol.org/data_objects/24942691
  3. (c) Alan Vernon, all rights reserved, uploaded by nataliemarisa, http://eol.org/pages/328609/overview
  4. Adapted by nataliemarisa from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulpes_vulpes

More Info

Range Map

iNat Map

Taxa mammal
Endangered status least concern