Fox

Foxes are any of the omnivorous, dog-like mammals belonging to the family Canidae. Characterized by a small- or medium-sized furry body, these animals can be easily distinguished by their flattened skull, a narrow snout, upright triangular ears, and bushy tail. They have black markings between their eyes and noses, while the color of their tail tip is different than the rest of their bodies.

Fox Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Carnivora
Canidae

Types of Foxes

List of Common Types of Fox Species

There are approximately 37 fox species (both surviving and extinct) that are divided into six genera, Cerdocyon (crab-eating foxes), Lycalopex (South American foxes), Urocyon (Western Hemisphere foxes), Otocyon (bat-eared foxes), Vulpes (true foxes), and the extinct Dusicyon. Here are the different types of commonly existing fox species:

  • Fennec Fox
  • Red Fox
  • Marble Fox
  • Gray Fox
  • Silver Fox
  • Arctic Fox
  • Cross Fox
  • Kit Fox
  • Swift Fox
  • Pale Fox
  • Blanford’s Fox
  • Cape Fox
  • Corsac Fox
  • Tibetan Sand Fox
  • Rüppell’s Fox
  • Bengal Fox
  • Culpeo Andean Fox
  • Darwin’s Fox
  • Pampas Fox
  • South American Gray Fox
  • Sechuran Fox
  • Hoary Fox
  • Island Fox
  • Bat-eared Fox

Physical Description and Appearance

Size: Foxes are typically shorter than its Canidae cousins, jackals, and wolves, but are larger than the Raccoon dogs. The red fox, the largest fox species, measures 35-50 cm at the shoulders while the smallest fennec fox stands at 20 cm.

Weight: Their weight varies depending on the species. The red fox, being the heaviest, weighs between 4-9 kg while the weight of the lightest fennec fox species is 0.7-1.6 kg.

Fox

Color: Their color ranges from black to pearly white and spotted black with a gray or white underside. The texture and color of their coat also vary with seasonal changes. The fur is much denser and more abundant in the winter than in the summer months.

Teeth: As in other members of the Canidae family, the fox’s jaw has 42 teeth in total with incisors = 3/3, canines = 1/1, premolars = 4/4, and molars = 3/2. The carnassial and canine teeth are conspicuous, like all carnivores.

Whiskers: They have black whiskers, with the ones on the muzzle measuring 3.9-4.3 in while those on the head are relatively shorter. Whiskers on their forelimbs have an average length of 1.6 in.

Distribution

Being highly versatile and adaptable by nature, foxes are found across the world. The range of distribution spans from the Arctic to Europe, Asia, North America, South America, North Africa, and Australia. The most widespread species is the red fox, which also has 47 recognized subspecies.

What kind of Habitats are they found in

Foxes live in diverse habitats, including grasslands, forested areas, snow-clad mountains, and deserts. They usually dig shallow burrows in which they live in small groups.

Fox Habitat

How long do they live

In the wild, the average lifespan of foxes is about one to five years. On the other hand, captive foxes have been reported to live up to approximately ten years. The application of fox control in semi-urban and urban settings causes most of the fox population to survive up to a year or so.

What do they eat

They eat a diverse variety of food, and their diet includes small mammals, reptiles, frogs, birds, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, fruits, and grasses. They are also scavengers, feeding on carcasses and rotten meat.

Fox Animal

Behavior

  • They stand and walk on the toes, for which they are called digitigrade animals.
  • Not all foxes live in packs, as some species like the Arctic fox are solitary.
  • They store excess food for later consumption by hiding them from conspecifics, typically under the snow, soil, or leaves.
  • Foxes typically pounce on their prey by crouching down in the terrain and then using their hind legs to leap up and land with great force on the targeted animal.
  • They use a set of vocalizations for communicating with members of the same pack. These sounds include whining, yelping, high-pitched explosive howling, sharp barking, growling, and a warning bark.
  • Foxes inhabiting semi-urban and rural environments often attack small livestock and domestic fowl. For this reason, they are considered nuisance creatures or pests.

Adaptations

  • Some species, such as the fennec fox has short fur that helps keep their body cool while some like the Arctic fox has an insulating, dense fur to keep the body warm. Thus, the coat is useful for maintaining constant body temperature.
  • The lower molar and upper premolar are specially designed to cut and tear flesh while the canines are large and sharp enough to catch and grip the prey.
  • Foxes have an excellent sense of hearing. They are sensitive to low-frequency sounds and the soft rustling noises made by prey deep in their burrows.
  • Because of their vertical pupils, they have an outstanding vision that helps them with hunting.

How do they Reproduce and Mate

Females are in heat for about 1-6 days, with their reproductive cycle lasting for 12 months. As with other canids, foxes release the ova during estrus. Sperm production in males starts from August-September, and it reaches its peak during December-February.

Once the ovum is fertilized, the female enters her gestation period that lasts for 52-53 days. Although the litter size varies depending on the species, they typically give birth to four or five babies in a litter on average.

Female Fox

What do the Baby Fox look like

After the babies are born, they have a fuzzy appearance due to their soft first coat. Their pupils are of striking blue shade while their ears are small and floppy.

Baby Fox

Conservation

Numerous fox species like Darwin’s fox and Island fox are considered endangered and near-threatened respectively in their native environment due to excessive hunting for pelts and habitat loss. Researchers and conservationists have removed healthy breeding pairs from the wild population and bred them in captivity so that they could have enough healthy foxes to set free into the wild.

Fox-FAQs

1. Are foxes canines or felines?

Foxes are canines or canids, which along with jackals, wolves, and domestic dogs, belong to the Canidae family.

2. Are foxes nocturnal animals?

Although foxes are primarily active at night, they are frequently seen moving from place to place in urban or suburban areas during the daytime.

3. What is a baby fox called?

Pups, cubs, or kits

4. What predators may eat a fox?

Foxes are hunted and eaten by predators like bears, wolves, eagles, owls, and badgers.

5. Do foxes eat cats?

Foxes are more likely to attack and eat kittens than adult cats.

6. Do foxes hibernate?

Foxes do not hibernate during the winter months. In the face of extreme weather, they take shelter and remain hidden until bad weather passes.

7. Can foxes climb trees?

The gray fox is the only fox species that climb trees regularly.

8. What is a male fox called?

A tod, reynard, or dog

9. What is a female fox called?

A vixen

10. What is a group of foxes called?

A leash, skulk, or earth

Male Fox

Interesting Facts

  • Foxes shed their winter coat once a year, and the process starts from their feet, through the legs, and finally along their back.
  • Unlike most canids, some species, such as gray foxes have retractable claws.
  • Foxes are quite fast. Red foxes, for example, have a top speed of 30 mph (50 kph).