Fox (Canidae) (Vulpes Vulpes)
The red fox is a small to medium omnivorous mammal on average 14 to 20 inches in height weighing up to 25 pounds. The fox is a nocturnal hunter with excellent eyesight and the ability to run up to 45 mph. Identifying characteristics are their pointy ears, flattened skull, elongated faces, and bushy tail. The fox is digitgrade, with partially retractable claws, making it appear to walk on its’ toes. The wild foxes have a typical lifespan of one to three years although the suburban fox may live up to ten years.
The suburban fox has adapted to humans often making dens or burrows under barns and sheds. They are cunning creatures and not easily trapped. Their diet consists of insects, small vertebrates, birds, and eggs. Foxes cache food, burying it for later consumption.
The female fox, vixen, generally are in heat for one to six days, with an average litter size of four to five after a 53 day gestation period. The caring of the pups shared by both the mother, father and siblings. Foxes have the ability to identify each other’s voices and the red fox is capable of making 28 different vocalizations.
Diseases of the red fox include mange causing hair loss and hypothermia during the winter months. The fox may also contract rabies, fox tapeworm – echinococcus multilocularis which can cause fatal liver disease in humans, toxaocariasis a roundworm can be transmitted to dogs and humans and canine heartworm. There are also studies linking the rise of lyme’s disease to the drop in red fox numbers.