The largest species of true foxes, and the last member of the dog family wild in the UK. The appearance of a medium sized dog, with a big bushy tail and large, pointy ears. As its name suggests, its fur is bright orange to red in colour, white on the underside and tail tip, and dark on the legs.
Widest range of any member of the carnivore family. Red foxes are found across the whole of the northern hemisphere, excluding Iceland and some parts of Siberia. They are an introduced species in around half of their current range (USA, Canada, Australia and various islands).
The key to their huge distribution is their ability to adapt to any environment or habitat. They can inhabit any habitat (for example, urban gardens and cities, wetlands, coastland, woodland, arable land, mountainous regions, tundra), but natural habitat is regarded as dry mixed landscape areas with a lot of habitat edge features like scrub and woodlands.
Adaptable and varied diet, the red fox is a species that readily exploits any food source it can find. Small mammals such as rodents and rabbits are an important food source, but invertebrates (earthworms, beetles), birds, crabs, and fruit are all noted as important food sources for the relevant populations. However, they are also known to scavenge from dustbins, bird tables and compost heaps.
Territorial but social animals mainly hunting at dusk and dawn (but active throughout the 24-hour period). Territories are held by small family group and marked with urine. Burrows are used, and are normally dug into water banks, among tree roots, or any abandoned human environment. Due to their highly social nature, communication is key and takes a number of different forms, from body language and displays to a wide vocal repertoire.
Red foxes are found everywhere in the UK except the Scottish Islands. Foxes have no legal protection in the UK and have been historically persecuted for fur and as part as rural traditions. They are often seen as pests, and are controlled in many areas to prevent livestock and pet predation.
There is no major threat affecting the Red fox species, only local, small scale threats. These are mainly exploitation and persecution, be that targeted or non-targeted. The Hunting Act 2004 made fox hunting illegal in England and Wales.
Our foxes are pretty shy, not bold as brass like the foxes you see in your back gardens. You can find them at the quiet end of the park, just past the badger building and opposite the bears.
Did you know?
Males foxes are called “dogs” and females are called “vixens”.