The fox is a scavenger carnivours dog, generally found in urban city areas in the northern Hemisphere. The fox is a nocturnal mammal, meaning that the fox only goes out a night to hunt for prey. Fox is a common name for many species of alert omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small-to-medium-size canids (slightly smaller than a medium-size domestic dog), with a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or brush).
Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to the Vulpes genus of "true foxes". By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), although various species are found on almost every continent. The presence of fox-like carnivores all over the globe, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their appearance in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world. The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.
Wild foxes tend live for around 6-7 years, but some foxes have been known to be older than 13 in captivity. The wild fox hunts for the mouse and other small mammals and birds, but foxes appear to enjoy all species of insect.
A fox is generally smaller than other members of the dog family like wolves, jackals and domestic dogs. Foxes can be a pest in the cities as foxes are often seen tearing into rubbish.
There are around 12 different species of fox found around the world, which include the urban fox or red fox, the beautifully white Arctic fox, the sand fox which is a light-coloured fox found in desert regions and the tiny yet big eared fennec fox.
Foxes in Europe have been the victims of fox hunting, an extremely controversial sport that involves humans on horses hunting out the fox, lead by a pack of hound dogs which would find the fox by following the scent of the fox. Fox hunting in this manner is now illegal, although it is still allowed if the sport only contains humans on horseback, without the use of their clever but somewhat vicious dogs.
The fox is also found in the more rural areas of the Northern hemisphere, although fox numbers in the countryside are outnumbered by fox numbers in cities as due to the foxes scavenging nature, food is more readily available in the urban streets.
Behavior of Fox:
Red foxes are solitary animals and do not form packs like wolves. During some parts of the year adjacent ranges may overlap somewhat, but parts may be regularly defended. In other words, Vulpes vulpes is at least partly territorial. Ranges are occupied by an adult male and one or two adult females with their associated young. Individuals and family groups have main earthen dens and often other emergency burrows in the home range. Dens of other animals, such as rabbits or marmots, are often taken over by foxes. Larger dens may be dug and used during the winter and during birth and rearing of the young. The same den is often used over a number of generations. Pathways throughout the home range connect the main den with other resting sites, favored hunting grounds and food storage areas. Red foxes are terrestrial and either nocturnal or crepuscular. Top speed is about 48 km/h and obstacles as high as 2 m can be lept. In the autumn following birth, the pups of the litter will disperse to their own territories. Dispersal can be to areas as nearby as 10 km and as far away as almost 400 km. Animals remain in the same home range for life.
Physical Description of Fox:
Coloration of red foxes ranges from pale yellowish red to deep reddish brown on the upper parts and white, ashy or slaty on the underside. The lower part of the legs is usually black and the tail usually has a white or black tip. Two color variants commonly occur. Cross foxes have reddish brown fur with a black stripe down the back and another across the shoulders. Silver foxes range from strong silver to nearly black and are the most prized by furriers. These variants are about 25% and 10% of red fox individuals, respectively. Red foxes, like many other canid species, have tail glands. In Vulpes vulpes this gland is located 75 mm above the root of the tail on its upper surface and lies within the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The eyes of mature animals are yellow. The nose is dark brown or black. The dental formula is 3/3 1/1 4/4 2/3. The tooth row is more than half the length of the skull. The premolars are simple and pointed, with the exception of upper fourth premolars, the carnassials. Molar structure emphasizes crushing. The manus has 5 claws and the pes 4 claws. The first digit, or dew claw, is rudimentary but clawed and does not contact the ground. (MacDonald and Reynolds, 2005)
Red foxes are the largest of the Vulpes species. Head and body length ranges from 455 to 900 mm, tail length from 300 to 555 mm, and weight from 3 to 14 kg. Males are slightly larger than females. Populations in southern deserts and in North America are smaller than European populations. Body mass and length among populations also varies with latitude (being larger in the north, according to Bergmann's rule). (MacDonald and Reynolds, 2005)
Other Physical Features: Endothermic, Homoeothermic, Bilateral symmetry.
Sexual Dimorphism of Fox: Male larger.