Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

June 2023
Written By: 
Grand Strand Magazine Staff
Photographs by: 
courtesy of shutterstock

The red fox is best identified by its handsome rust-colored coat, black legs and long, white-tipped, fluffy tail. It has an elongated snout, pointed, perky ears, with a white underside. Not all red foxes are red, however; they can also have gray, black and cross-coloring along its torso. The red fox is the most widely distributed member of the order Carnivora, found on five continents across a range of environments, from the Arctic Circle to near the Sahara Desert.

- Red foxes only use dens when raising kits. They use abandoned burrows of other animals to raise their babies each spring. These often have a second entrance/exit so they are not trapped. They may also have a spare burrow to use in an emergency.

- Red foxes are in the canid, or dog, family. They’re keen hunters and are graceful and athletic, sharing some behaviors with cats, like stalking and pouncing on prey, running sideways, and walking on toes. They can run nearly 30 miles per hour and leap fences.

- Red foxes have ultrasonic hearing and can hear the low frequency sounds of small animals digging under the ground, leaves, or snow. They use the earth's magnetic field to help zero in on their prey before pouncing. A 2014 study by the University of Duisburg-Essen and Czech University of Life Sciences reported that red foxes have the best known maximal absolute hearing sensitivity of any mammal. They reportedly can hear a mouse squeak from 100 feet away.

- Foxes love to play. These charismatic, intelligent animals have even been known to steal golf balls from golf courses to play with! Foxes play alone, with other foxes or other animals — even deer.

- Males are known as dogs, females are vixens and babies are kits. A group of foxes is called a skulk, or leash. They communicate through vocalizations, facial expressions and scent marking. Red foxes use 28 known vocalizations.