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Red Fox Facts | Canadian Rockies Wildlife Guide

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes)—a solitary and territorial animal—is one of the shyest and most intelligent members of the canine family. The species is the subject of much folklore, and its nocturnal scavenging and hunting behaviors in close proximity to human communities have undoubtedly contributed to its mystique.

The red fox is considerably larger than the Arctic fox, but less than half the weight of a coyote. Red foxes have very large ears for their head size. Aided by their adept senses of hearing, sight, and smell, they are efficient and lethal predators—picking up on movement through tall grasses and deep snow. As an opportunistic omnivore, their diet includes corn, berries, apples, grasses, birds, mice, voles, shrews, hares and muskrats. When a red fox senses potential prey, it will slowly stalk the animal until its exact location is determined. Then, the fox leaps in the air and drops on its hapless victim with both forepaws.

Red foxes can be spotted wandering through residential neighborhoods and exploring farmland, beaches, woodlands, as well as alpine and arctic tundra. However, they prefer to live at the edges of forests, in tilled fields and near marshes, where the eggs of ground nesting ducks and marsh birds are dependable sources of food. Home ranges are often bound by rivers or other natural barriers and related foxes do not share resources within these perimeters. The size and shape of home ranges correlate to the status of the individual; this is perhaps why females occupy smaller ranges than males. When a vixen chooses her mate, the inseparable pair builds their home from an abandoned wolf den or rodent burrow. The parents provide their newborns with milk supplemented with semi-digested meat. By their third month, the pups begin learning to hunt. Play is an integral component of their lessons, as it helps develop the speed and agility so vital to their survival. In early winter, the family disbands—each fox going its own way to seek out a new home range.
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