Georgia Wildlife Web

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Species Description

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes


Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

Description

The head and upper body are generally a deep reddish brown to yellowish red, but black and silver color phases also occur. The long bushy tail is tipped with white and the feet, legs, underside of tail, and ear edges are black. The Red Fox ranges from 90 - 114 cm (35.4 - 44.9 in) in total length and weighs 2.7 - 7.7 kg (6 - 17 lbs). none

Life Cycle

Red Foxes are monogamous and breed in January and February. An average of 4 - 5 young are born after a gestation period of about 52 days. The helpless pups grow rapidly and begin to be able to leave the den at about 4 weeks of age. The male provides food for the female and young while the pups are still at the den. Pups are weaned at 8 - 10 weeks, and begin to accompany the parents on hunting trips by 10 weeks of age. The young remain with the parents until autumn, at which time they disperse. They are about 6 months old at this time. Young reach sexual maturity at 10 - 12 months of age.

Natural History

Primarily nocturnal in the summer, the Red Fox is more active in daylight hours in the fall and winter. This species prefers to live in areas of mixed pine-hardwood forests interspersed with fields and cropland. It also inhabits forest edges, river bottomlands, and rocky hillsides. The majority of its diet consists of rodents, rabbits, and other small mammals. It will also consume fruits, berries, insects, and occasionally carrion. Red Foxes maintain dens in which to retreat during daylight hours and bad weather, as well as to rear young. Dens may be dug by the foxes themselves or may be enlarged burrows dug by other small mammals. Dens are usually located in areas of loose soil on hillsides under cover of heavy brush or shrubs. Most foxes maintain a home range of 8 - 10 square kilometers (3.1 - 3.9 square miles). The average life span of the Red Fox is 4 - 5 years, but individuals have lived in captivity for as long as 8 years. This species is susceptible to several infectious diseases, including mange, distemper, and rabies.

Range

The Red Fox inhabits all of Georgia except the lowest portions of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. This species was introduced into many areas of the eastern and southeastern United States by the early 20th century. It now ranges over most of the eastern and inter-mountain western United States. In the west it avoids desert and high plains habitats.

Conservation Status

The trapping/hunting season for the Red Fox in Georgia runs from December to mid-February.

Similar Species

The Gray Fox and the Coyote do not have a white tip on their tail or black feet, legs, underside of tail, and ear edges. All of these marks are common in Red Foxes.