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Red Fox

Red Fox
Vulpes vulpes
(Order Carnivora; Family Canidae)

Photo: A curled-up red fox
Vulpes vulpes. Photo from National Geographic Wild

​Diagnosis:​ The red fox has an elongated body with relatively short limbs. It's skeleton is much like a similarly sized dog but the skeleton will weigh close to 30% less than a domesticated dog.There are three different color morphs for this species: red, silver/black, and a cross. The red color morph has bright reddish/rusty hair with a stripe down the spine. Sometimes a lactating vixen will have a dark brick red belly. The tail is longer than 1/2 the body length and is usually pale gray along the underside with a white tip. This species is also fairly sexually dimorphic with females weighing 15-20% less than males. Kits (juveniles) are born with grayish-brown fluffy fur.

Vulpes vulpes kit. Photo from The Cute Project

​Natural History: ​This species usually lives in a family group or pack made up of an alpha male and/or female with rogue foxes (lone or abandoned foxes adopted by the group) and other family members. The average litter for this species is 4 - 6 kits with larger litters noted where fox populations are low. Kits are born deaf, blind, and without teeth but these will develop and the coat will begin to change around 3 weeks of age. The kits leave their dens when they reach about 4 weeks old and are weaned from their mother around 6-7 weeks. Foxes are considered sexually mature at 9-10 months. The average life span for this species is only around 1.5 years.

Distribution: Vulpes vulpes is very widely distributed and it's 24 subspecies range across most of the northern hemisphere. Changes in their coat and other physical features usually relate to their geographic location.

Map: Red fox range
Distribution of Vulpes vulpes. Map from National Geographic Wild



Diet: The Red Fox is an omnivore and has a very wide variety of foods in its diet. In the fall the diet is composed almost entirely of fruits including many different kinds of berries. They prefer small mouse-like rodents for protein such as; squirrels, voles, mice, reptiles, and insects. They also supplement their diet with various tubers, sedges and grasses. They prefer to hunt in the early morning and late evening hours and have a unique way of pouncing on their prey.


Conservation Status: Not threatened


Earle B.D. and Voigt D. R. 1983. Avoidance of coyotes by red fox families. Journal of Wildlife Management. 47(3) pp. 852-857

Lloyd H. G. 1980. The Red Fox. pp 320

National Geographic Wild. Vulpes vulpes.

Image Credits:

Vulpes vulpes. Photo from National Geographic Wild

Vulpes vulpes Kit. Photo from The Cute Project

Distribution of Vulpes vulpes. Map from National Geographic Wild

Submitted by: Hallie Craycraft, July 2011.

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
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