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Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)



Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Order: Carnivora, Family: Canidae

Coloration of red foxes ranges from pale yellowish red to deep reddish brown on the upper parts and white or ashy 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. The cross fox has reddish-brown fur and a black stripe down its back and another across its shoulders. The silver fox ranges from strong silver to nearly black and is the most prized by furriers. Red foxes, like many other canids, have tail glands, which are located above the root of the tail on its upper surface and lie within the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The eyes of mature animals are yellow. The nose is dark brown or black.



I. DESCRIPTION:

  • Average weight is 8 to 10 pounds.
  • Coloration of red foxes ranges from pale yellowish red to deep reddish brown on the upper parts and white or ashy 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. The cross fox has reddish-brown fur and a black stripe down its back and another across its shoulders. The silver fox ranges from strong silver to nearly black and is the most prized by furriers.
  • Red foxes, like many other canids, have tail glands, which are located above the root of the tail on its upper surface and lie within the dermis and subcutaneous tissue.
  • The eyes of mature animals are yellow. The nose is dark brown or black.

II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:

  • The red fox is found throughout Canada, Alaska, almost all of the contiguous United States, all of Europe and Britain and almost all of Asia including Japan. There are also several populations in North Africa. Red foxes were introduced into Australia in the 19th century.
  • Red foxes utilize a wide range of habitats, including forest, tundra, prairie and farmland. They prefer habitats with a diversity of vegetation.

III. DIET:

  • The red fox is essentially an omnivore. It mostly eats rodents, lagomorphs, insects and fruit. It will also eat carrion. Red foxes have a characteristic manner of hunting mice. The fox stands motionless, listening and watching intently for a mouse it has detected. It then leaps high and brings the forelimbs straight down forcibly to pin the mouse to the ground. Daily food consumption is between 1 and 2 pounds a day.

IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:

  • The annual estrous period of female red foxes lasts from one to six days. Ovulation is spontaneous and does not require copulation to occur. The exact time of estrous and breeding varies across the broad geographic range of the species: December to January in the south, January to February in the central regions, and February to April in the north.
  • Males will fight during the breeding season. Males have a cycle of fecundity, with full spermatogenesis only occurring from November to March. Females may mate with a number of males but will establish a partnership with only one male.
  • Just before and for a time after giving birth the female remains in or around the den. The male partner will provision his mate with food but does not go into the maternity den. Gestation is typically between 51 and 53 days but can be as short as 49 days or as long as 56 days. Litters vary in size from one to 13 pups with an average of five.
  • The pups are born blind but open their eyes nine to 14 days after birth. Pups leave the den four or five weeks after birth and are fully weaned by eight to 10 weeks. Mother and pups remain together until the autumn after the birth. Sexual maturity is reached by 10 months of age.
  • Red foxes are solitary animals and do not form packs like wolves. Individual adults have home ranges that vary in size depending on the quality of the habitat.

V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:

  • Red foxes are considered by many to be threats to poultry, though the magnitude of the threat is exaggerated.
  • Foxes are known vectors for rabies and can transmit the disease to humans.



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