Average lifespan in the wild: 2 to 4 years
Size: Head and body, 18 to 33.75 in (46 to 86 cm); Tail, 12 to 21.75 in (30.5 to 55.5 cm)
Weight: 6.5 to 24 lbs (3 to 11 kg)
Foxes belong to the canid family and include such species as red fox, kit fox, swift fox, fennec fox, arctic fox and gray fox, just to name a few. While some species of canid have been hunted almost to extinction because of their penchant for livestock and the depletion of their natural habitats, some species of fox such as the red fox have adapted well to changing times and find great opportunities for food and shelter in urban environments.
What does a Fox look like?
All species of foxes have similar characteristics. They tend to be light brown, reddish, gray or dark brown in color, except for the arctic fox, which is pure white in winter. Most foxes have relatively large ears that stand up straight and long bushy tails. Home for most foxes is a den tucked away among rock crevices, an abandoned rabbit burrow or a tree hole in the case of the gray fox. Foxes tend to be small by comparison with other members of their family like wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs; to have slender, slightly flattened skulls, pointed muzzles, moderately short legs, large ears, and long, bushy tails.
Where do Foxes live?
Foxes are readily found in cities and cultivated areas and seem to adapt reasonably well to human presence.
Red foxes live in most of Asia, Europe, and in the northern parts of North America. Gray foxes live in most of the United States, Mexico, Central America, and in parts of South America. Foxes are found in farmlands and forests, deserts, burrows, the prairies and in wooded areas of some cities. They live in family groups while they are young. Adults live alone or in pairs. Foxes do not live in packs like wolves do. Foxes live in dens during the winter. The den may be underground, in caves, among rocks, or in hollow logs or trees. Grey foxes can be almost squirrel-like in their ability to climb trees, and have been known to live in expropriated squirrels nests as high as 25 feet off the ground.
What does a Fox eat?
Foxes eat small rodents, such as mice and rats. They love rabbits though they're difficult to catch, but they also do eat eggs and birds, they are mostly scavengers.
The red fox is not a finicky eater, and will ingest beetles, worms, frogs, birds, eggs, mice, fruits and refuse.
What can you tell about the Red Fox?
The red fox has the largest geographic distribution of any carnivore in the world. Primarily nocturnal, it is a shy and nervous hunter and scavenger that will eat everything from insects and small mammals to berries and even human garbage. The red fox has acute hearing that can pick up the low-frequency sounds of digging and scraping in underground burrows. When food items are abundant, the fox caches them for harder times. The primary social unit is the mated pair, and their litters are born in dens dug by the adults or taken over from other mammals, such as badgers, and then modified. Older foxes, usually female, help to provision the litter.
What can you tell about the Kit Fox?
The color of the kit fox, also known as the swift fox, varies according to region. Nocturnal carnivores, kit foxes prey on rodents, rabbits, hares, and sometimes ground-nesting birds and reptiles. During the day, they shelter in burrows, which may have up to twenty-four entrances. Each burrow is typically occupied by a single fox. Cubs are born blind and helpless, and the mother rarely leaves the den while nursing. During this time, the male hunts and provides food and nourishment for the nursing female. At about one month, the cubs are sufficiently developed to venture outside to romp, play, and begin learning to hunt for themselves.
What can you tell about the Fennec Fox?
The fennec fox, smallest of all canids, is well adapted to desert life: Its body is small; its hair is light-colored to reduce heat absorption; and its large ears are highly vascularized to facilitate cooling. Also, its feet have hairy soles for traction and heat protection in sand, and it can sustain long periods without drinking. These foxes dig multichambered dens in the sand and rest there during the day, shielded from the sun. At night they venture forth to hunt insects and small vertebrates. Once they locate their prey, they dig in the sand at high speed to catch it. Fennec foxes live in groups of ten to fifteen individuals and mated pairs are believed to bond for life.
What can you tell about the Arctic Fox?
A shortened snout and tiny round ears (smallest among foxes) help the arctic fox reduce heat loss, hair on the soles of its feet insulate against the cold ground, and a very thick winter fur keeps it so warm that it doesn't begin to shiver until the temperature drops to about minus ninety degrees Fahrenheit (-70°C). This fox is the only canid with a coat that changes color seasonally; its winter coat is white and its summer coat is blue-gray or gray-brown. A nocturnal burrower, the arctic fox is occasionally seen by day hunting small mammals. Its diet also includes birds and their eggs, carrion, and berries. In years when food is scarce, arctic fox populations decline and no young are produced.
Did you know?
A pack of foxes is called a "skulk." A fox's bushy tail is called a "brush." And its acute muzzle is called a "fox face."
Some fox species, such as the red fox, are highly adaptive. Others, like the crab-eating fox of South America and the bat-eared fox of Africa, are on the brink of extinction in their native habitats.
The arctic fox has several adaptions to its cold environment, including thick, white fur, a good supply of body fat and a system of blood circulation in its paws that keep them constantly warm.
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