Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes ) - Are red foxes aggressive? , How smart is a red fox and all about

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Vulpes
Species: V. vulpes
Binomial name - Vulpes vulpes               

      The red fox (Vulpes vulpes), sometimes known as the common fox, is the biggest of the genuine foxes and one of the most extensively dispersed members of the order Carnivora. It may be found across the Northern Hemisphere, encompassing much of North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as portions of North Africa. The IUCN lists it as a species of least concern. It was brought to Australia, where it is deemed hazardous to local animals and bird populations, and its range has expanded in tandem with human growth. It is listed among the "world's 100 worst invasive species" because of its presence in Australia.

The red fox shows a more developed form of carnivory among real foxes. Apart from its size, the red fox stands out among fox species for its ability to swiftly adapt to new settings. Despite its name, the species frequently produces people of various colors, including leucistic and melanistic people. There are 45 subspecies of foxes in Asia and North Africa, which are separated into two groups: giant northern foxes and small, basal southern grey desert foxes. The red fox is often regarded as a symbol of animal cunning and is the subject of many legends. Red foxes are also shot for sport and their fur, as well as being reared professionally for pelts.

Red foxes are frequently seen in pairs or small groups of families, such as a mated pair and their offspring, or a male with numerous females that are related to him. The mated pair's young stay with their parents to help with the care of new kits. Small rodents are the primary prey of this species, although they may also prey on rabbits, squirrels, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates, and juvenile ungulates. Fruit and vegetable matter are occasionally consumed. Although the red fox kills smaller predators like other foxes, it is vulnerable to larger predators like wolves, coyotes, golden jackals, large predatory birds like golden eagles and Eurasian eagle owls, and medium- and large-sized felines. Although it is too little to represent a threat to people, it has reaped the benefits of human presence and has successfully conquered many suburban and metropolitan regions. The domestication of the red fox is also ongoing in Russia, with the domesticated red fox as a result.

Origins of red fox

The species is Eurasian in origin, and it is thought to have developed from Vulpes alopecoides or the related Chinese Vulpes chikushanensis, both of which flourished during the Middle Villafranchian period. The earliest V. Vulpes fossils were discovered in Baranya, Hungary, between 3.4 and 1.8 million years ago. Because the oldest red fox fossils are smaller than existing populations, the ancestor species was likely smaller than the current one. 115–116 The first fossil remnants of the present species were discovered with the trash of early human settlements in the mid-Pleistocene. As a result, it's been proposed that red foxes were hunted by prehistoric people for both food and pelts.

Physical characteristics

05 cm d foxes are about 90–1(36–42 inches) long, with the tail being approximately 35–40 cm (14–16 inches) long, and stand around 40 cm tall at the shoulder. The average adult weighs 5–7 kg (10–15 pounds), while the heaviest individuals can weigh up to 14 kg (31 pounds). The red fox has a beautiful reddish-brown coat with long guard hairs and delicate fine underfur. It has black ears and legs, and its tail is frequently white-tipped. Its color, on the other hand, varies. Black and silver coats are seen in North America, with a varying quantity of white or white-banded hair in a black coat, and these animals are frequently referred to as silver foxes.

The red fox, also known as the brant fox or cross fox, is golden brown with a black cross running between the shoulders and down the back. It may be found in both North America and Europe. The Samson fox is a red fox mutant strain found in northern Europe. The underfur is tightly curled and lacks lengthy guard hairs. They trot at a pace of 6–13 km/h (4–8 mph) and can run at a maximum of 50 km/h (30 mph). When walking at a moderate pace, they have a stride length of 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in). Red foxes in North America are usually light-built, having long bodies for their bulk, and a high degree of sexual dimorphism.

Male red fox
Female fox

   The body of the red fox is elongated, with short limbs. The tail is fluffy and touches the ground while standing. It is longer than half the body length (70 percent of head and body length). Their pupils are round and orientated vertically. Nictitating membranes exist, but only when the eyelids are closed do they move. The forepaws have five fingers, whereas the rear foot only has four and his dewclaws. They are quick and nimble, leaping over fences as high as 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) and swimming well. Vixens have four pairs of teats on average, however, vixens with seven, nine, or 10 teats are not rare. Male foxes have smaller testes than Arctic foxes.

Red foxes have binocular eyesight, however, it is mostly used to detect movement. Their hearing is keen, as they can hear black grouse changing roosts at 600 paces, crows flying at 0.25–0.5 kilometers (0.16–0.31 mi), and mice squeaking at roughly 100 meters (330 ft). They can pinpoint sounds to within one degree at frequencies between 700 and 3,000 Hz, but not at higher frequencies. They have an excellent sense of smell, although it is not as strong as that of specialized dogs.


Territorial and Social

     Red foxes either develop stable home ranges within certain locations or are nomadic, with no permanent residence. They mark their territory using their urine. A male fox raises one hind leg and his urine is sprayed forward in front of him, whereas a female fox squats down and sprays urine in the ground between her hind legs. Urine is also used to mark empty cache locations, which may be utilized to store discovered food, as well as to serve as a warning not to waste time examining them. If the odds of obtaining a territory of their own are good, red foxes may abandon their family once they reach maturity. If they don't, they'll stay with their parents, putting off their own reproduction.

 They mark their territory using their urine.


  In the winter, red foxes mate. The female (vixen) gives birth to 1–10 or more offspring after a gestation period of seven or eight weeks (kits, cubs, or pups). A den, which is usually a hole abandoned by another animal, is where the birth takes place. The parent foxes frequently increase it. The cubs spend around five weeks in the den and are looked after by both parents during the summer. When the young are completely developed and independent, they disperse in the fall. Even though foxes are predominantly monogamous, DNA evidence from one group revealed high levels of polygyny, incest, and mixed paternity litters. Subordinate vixens may become pregnant, but their kits are frequently murdered by the dominant female or other subordinates after they give birth.

  The usual litter size is four to six kits, while litters of up to thirteen kits have been known to occur. In locations where fox mortality is high, large litters are common. Kits have dark brown fluffy fur and are born blind, deaf, and toothless. They weigh 56–110 g (2.0–3.9 oz) at birth and have a body length of 14.5 cm (5.7 in) and a tail length of 7.5 cm (3.0 in). They are born with short legs, huge heads, and wide chests. Mothers must stay with their kits for 2–3 weeks since they are unable to control their temperature. During this time, the moms are fed by the dads or barren vixens. Vixens are fiercely protective of their young and have been seen to battle off terriers in order to defend them. If the mother dies before the kits reach adulthood, the father becomes their sole provider. After 13–15 days, the kits' eyes open, their ear canals open, and their top teeth erupt, followed by the lower teeth 3–4 days later. Their eyes start off blue, but after 4–5 weeks, they become amber.
Lactation lasts around 6–7 weeks. After 8 weeks, their woolly coats begin to be covered with lustrous guard hairs. The kits are long-legged, narrow-chested, and sinewy at the age of 3–4 months. They attain adult dimensions at the age of 6–7 months, and their lifespan in captivity can be as long as 15 years, however, they seldom live beyond 5 years in the wild.

Pups are playing with their mother.

Diet, hunting, and feeding

  Red foxes are omnivores who eat a wide variety of foods. Red foxes were found to consume over 300 animal species and a few dozen plant species in the former Soviet Union, according to research. Voles, mice, ground squirrels, hamsters, gerbils, woodchucks, pocket gophers, and deer mice are among the tiny rodents they eat. Birds (especially Passeriformes, Galliformes, and ducks), leporids, porcupines, raccoons, opossums, reptiles, insects, other invertebrates, and flotsam (marine animals, fish, and echinoderms) are secondary prey species that require 500 grams (18 oz) of food every day. Red foxes consume plants readily, and in some locations, fruit can account for up to 100% of their diet in the fall.

Red fox with a rabbit 

Predation of game and songbirds, hares, rabbits, muskrats, and young ungulates has been linked to red foxes, notably in preserves, reserves, and hunting farms where ground-nesting birds are protected and bred, as well as on poultry farms.

Relation with humans

hunting the fox

  The first historical accounts of fox hunting originate from the 4th century BC; Alexander the Great is known to have hunted foxes, and a 350 BC seal portrays a Persian horseman spearing a fox. Xenophon, who saw hunting as an important component of a civilized man's education, pushed for the slaughter of foxes as pests because they diverted hounds away from hares. By AD 80, the Romans began hunting foxes. Foxes were considered secondary quarry in Europe throughout the Dark Ages, but their value expanded over time. Foxes were reclassified as Beasts of the Chase by Cnut the Great, a lesser type of quarry than Beasts of Venery. By the late 1200s, Edward had a royal pack of foxhounds and a specialized fox huntsman, and foxes were being pursued less as pests and more as Beasts of the Chase. Foxes were increasingly pursued above ground with hounds rather than underground with terriers during this time period. In his book The Master of Game, Edward, Second Duke of York aided the ascent of foxes as a more prestigious quarry. Fox hunting had been a customary noble activity by the Renaissance.

Fur use

The fur trade harvests red foxes as one of the most significant fur-bearing animals. Trimmings, scarfs, muffs, jackets, and coats are made from their pelts. Cloth jackets and fur clothing, particularly evening wraps, are commonly trimmed with them. Silver fox pelts are popular for capes, while cross fox pelts are primarily used for scarves and very seldom for trimming. In the early 1900s, the United Kingdom purchased around 1,000 American red fox skins each year, while Germany and Russia exported 500,000. In 1985–86, 1,543,995 pelts were traded globally by wild red foxes. Pelt prices are rising, with 2012 North American wholesale auction prices averaging $39 and 2013 prices averaging $65.78. Red foxes accounted for 45 percent of $50 million in wild-caught pelts in the United States.

Fox pelts Copyright ©- Wikipedia 

Red foxes from North America, particularly those from northern Alaska, are prized for their fur because they feature silky guard hairs that enable the user full mobility after clothing. Red foxes in southern Alaska's coastal areas and the Aleutian Islands are an anomaly since their pelts are exceedingly coarse and seldom cost more than a third of what their northern Alaskan relatives do. In comparison to North American peltries, most European peltries have coarse-textured fur. The Nordic and Far Eastern Russian peltries are the sole exceptions, although, in terms of silkiness, they are still inferior to North American peltries.

Pet predation

If housed in open runs or permitted to roam freely in gardens, red foxes may hunt on domestic rabbits and guinea pigs. The majority of the time, this problem may be avoided by keeping them in sturdy hutches and runs. Cats are regularly encountered by urban red foxes, and they may feed alongside them. When it comes to physical fights, cats typically have the upper hand. The majority of confirmed occurrences of red foxes murdering cats involve kittens. Although the majority of red foxes do not hunt cats, some do and may regard them as rivals rather than food.

Red fox trying to hunt domestic rabbit Copyright ©- Wikipedia 

     Red foxes have been known to prey on lambs. Red foxes usually attack physically debilitated lambs, although this is not always the case. Smaller breeds, such as Scottish Blackface lambs, are more susceptible than bigger types, such as Merino lambs. Ewes can't properly guard both twins and singlets at the same time, therefore twins may be more vulnerable to red foxes than singlets. Due to the weight of the resultant progeny, crossbreeding tiny, highland ewes with bigger, lowland rams can cause difficult and extended labor for ewes, putting the lambs at a greater danger of red fox predation.

Taming and domestication

Red foxes are often unsuitable as pets in their natural condition. During the spring season, many ostensibly abandoned kits are adopted by well-meaning individuals, despite the fact that vixens are unlikely to abandon their young. Orphans are uncommon, and the ones who are adopted are most likely kits who wandered away from their den locations. Kits require virtually continual attention, and they require milk at four-hour intervals day and night while still suckling. They may become destructive to leather things, furniture, and electrical cords after weaning. Though they are normally amicable toward people when they are young, captive red foxes, with the exception of their handlers, grow terrified of humans after they reach the age of ten weeks. Even when well-fed, they retain their wild cousins' strong propensity for hiding and may represent a hazard to domestic birds. They may build friendships with cats and dogs, especially those bred for fox hunting, despite their suspicion of outsiders. Red foxes that had been tamed were previously employed to attract ducks to hunting blinds.

domesticated foxes are  fascinating

Individual red foxes ranging in color from white to black have been selected and reared as "silver foxes" in fur farms. Dmitry Belyayev, a Russian geneticist, established a lineage of tamed silver foxes in the second part of the twentieth century. He raised numerous generations over a 40-year span, selecting only those individuals that exhibited the least fear of people. Finally, Belyayev's team chose only those silver foxes who responded positively to people, resulting in a population of silver foxes with dramatically altered behavior and appearance. These foxes never longer displayed any fear of humans after roughly ten generations of controlled mating, and they frequently wagged their tails and licked their human caregivers to demonstrate affection. Physical changes such as piebald coats, floppy ears in kits, and curled tails, which are comparable to the characteristics that identify domestic dogs from grey wolves, were also seen.

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