- A-Z Animals
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
10. What is a group of foxes called?
A leash, skulk, or earth