Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

loading
Red fox in snow, side profile
IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern LEAST
CONCERN

Top facts

  • The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, and has the widest distribution of any member of the order Carnivora.
  • Red foxes can produce 28 different vocalisations.
  • The male red fox is referred to as a dog, while the female is known as a vixen.
  • The red fox’s tail is known as a brush, and can be used by the fox as a warm cover in cold weather.
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Red fox fact file

Red fox description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCarnivora
FamilyCanidae
GenusVulpes (1)

The size of a small dog, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest member of the genus Vulpes and is well-known for its large bushy tail, which is often tipped with white (3). The fur is variable in colour (3), but is usually reddish-brown to flame-red above and white to black below (5); the lower limbs and the back of the ears are often black (3).

French
Renard Roux.
Spanish
ZORRO, Zorro Rojo.
Size
Male head-body length: 67 - 72 cm (2)
Female head-body length: 62 - 67 cm (2)
Tail length: 40 cm (2)
Male weight: 6 - 7 kg (2)
Female weight: 5 - 6 kg (2)
Top

Red fox biology

The red fox is typically active at dusk (crepuscular) or at night (nocturnal), but is often active in the day in more undisturbed areas (3). The diet is extremely broad, and includes small mammals, many invertebrates, and birds, as well as fruit, carrion (3) and items scavenged from dustbins, bird tables and compost heaps (2).

Top

Red fox range

Distributed throughout the northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle in the north, as far south as north Africa (3), including much of North America, all of Europe and most of Asia, including Japan (1). The red fox is found practically everywhere in mainland Britain, as well as on many islands (4).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Red fox habitat

This highly adaptable species is found in many habitats, from sand dunes to mountain tops (2). The red fox also occurs in urban areas (4), and seems to fare particularly well in affluent suburbs (3).

Top

Red fox status

The red fox is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1)

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

Top

Red fox threats

Foxes are perceived as important predators of ground nesting birds, gamebirds, and livestock, and are therefore widely controlled (6). Most deaths are caused by road accidents, shooting and other methods of control, and secondary poisoning may also be a factor resulting in mortality (4). Furthermore, foxes are hunted with hounds in Britain; this is a contentious issue (2).

Top

Red fox conservation

The red fox is legislatively widely regarded as vermin and is therefore unprotected (3). In Britain, it is protected by closed seasons against hunting (3). No conservation measures are in place (3). Research into fox predation and control is being carried out by the Game Conservancy Trust (6).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Find out more

For more information on the red fox:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Carrion
The flesh of a dead animal.
Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. The Mammal Society (July, 2002)
    http://www.abdn.ac.uk/mammal/fox.shtml
  3. IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group (July, 2002)
    http://www.canids.org/species/Vulpes_vulpes.htm
  4. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Macdonald, D.W. and Tattersall, F.T. (2001) Britain's mammals: The Challenge for Conservation. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University.
  6. Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (July, 2002)
    http://www.gct.org.uk
X
Close

Image credit

Red fox in snow, side profile  
Red fox in snow, side profile

© Sergey Gorshkov / naturepl.com

Nature Picture Library
5a Great George Street
Bristol
BS1 5RR
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 117 911 4675
Fax: +44 (0) 117 911 4699
info@naturepl.com
http://www.naturepl.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in the Wytham Woods eco-region

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in the Illinois eco-region.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog