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fox Foxes

Identify It >   Mammals Section >   Foxes >


Scientific name:  Vulpes vulpes

Size:  An adult fox is about 70cm from head to tail, and the bushy tail or 'brush' is around 40cm long

Distribution:  Found throughout the UK

Months seen:  All year round

Life span:  2 to 3 years.  In captivity more than 10 years

Habitat:  Foxes are creatures of open countryside, but more frequently they are found in urban areas

Food:  Mostly rats, mice, voles, rabbits and insects.  In towns and cities they scavenge household scraps from gardens and dustbins

Special features:  Red Foxes have been living in the UK since the last ice age. They are mainly nocturnal, but you can sometimes see them during daylight hours.  Red foxes sleep in underground dens.  The dens appear similar to badger setts but you can tell when foxes are resident by the strong musky odour at the entrance hole.

In the winter the fur coat of the fox becomes thicker, and a richer red-brown colour to help insulate them from the cold weather.

Mating occurs in late December, and this is the time of year when foxes are at their noisiest.  After dusk the males (dogs) emit a short loud bark, and the females (vixens) answer with an eerie scream which sounds frighteningly human.

The cubs, between three and six, are born in an underground den around the middle of March.  By the end of May or early June they start to make exploratory trips above ground with their mother as she goes hunting for food.

If you find a pile of chewed or broken feathers on the ground this may well be where a fox has caught and killed a bird.  The feathers will be chewed cleanly in half.  If the feathers are not broken or chewed it's likely the kill was made by a bird of prey such as a sparrowhawk.

If you see a fox out in the daytime it doesn't necessarily mean it is sick.  Foxes frequently hunt for food in daylight, especially when they have a litter of cubs to feed.  However, if you see a fox with bald patches and gluey eyes, it is likely suffering from sarcoptic mange which can, and should be treated quickly.  You can call the RSPCA or contact your local wildlife rescue centre who may be able to help.

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