Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
|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)
- 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.
- The red fox has a varied diet, including small mammals, birds, invertebrates, fish, frogs, fruit and vegetables.
The red fox is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
For more information on the red fox:
IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group:
BBC Wildlife Finder:
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- 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.
IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
The Mammal Society (July, 2002)
IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group (July, 2002)
- Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Macdonald, D.W. and Tattersall, F.T. (2001) Britain's mammals: The Challenge for Conservation. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University.
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (July, 2002)