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The Painful Interaccion of the Red Fox and Humans

Updated on May 9, 2011

Handsome Old Reynard!

The Beautiful Adult Red Fox.
The Beautiful Adult Red Fox.

The Red Fox Mostly Lives Peaceably With Man

Sad Incident Doesn't Justify Fox-Hunting Returning

Despite the sad attack on two babies while in bed by a fox, we should no more describe the Red Fox as vermin, as we heard a listener do on Sky News this morning, than you would your pet, domestic dog. Indeed, both are from the same family, the Canidae, although they have evolved somewhat differently and the genus of your pet is the same as the wolf, Genus Canis, also including wolves, coyotes, jackals and the Australian dingo, (descended from domestic dogs turning feral). The foxes are Genus Vulpes, or Genus Dusicyon, around 20 species.

This fairly ancient family, the Canidae, began 30 million years ago, and total some 13 Genera and 37 distinct Species, spread all over the planet, although the Grey Wolf, (Canis lupus), has contracted greatly in modern times. These large carnivores require huge territories in order to hunt and breed and they compete with man in too many instances.

Our British Red Fox, (Vulpes vulpes) have cleverly adapted to urban living and have expanded their range in this manner, bringing them into contact with man and his chickens a little too often! However, it is not difficult or hugely expensive to fox-proof a chicken run. Where fowls free range it is not so easy as the fox is crepuscular, diurnal and nocturnal and clever at getting around, over or below fences, which should be at least 7 feet tall and unclimable. People rightly are shocked when Reynard the Fox kills a dozen laying hens in one predatory attack. He does this so he can return and pick up the rest at his leisure if given the chance.

Fox attacks on humans are so rare that, for all intents and purposes, they can be considered non-existent. The fox mainly predates on small prey, mice, insects, rabbits and chickens sometimes. Foxes possess sharp teeth but relatively weak biting force when compared to wolves and domestic dogs. Any adult human would not be considered by any fox as viable prey - unless it was rabid; a couple of attacks by rabid and confused foxes on children have been reported in other lands, but no deaths (of the victim). Although people are naturally outraged when an attack by any animal on their children are concerned, it would be illogical to take wholesale action against foxes for this isolated incident, and especially use this instance to reinstate fox hunting. Children are far more in danger from our pet dogs, as the literally hundreds of attacks we read about each year shows. Many more kids are hurt or die in horse riding incidents. We would be far better off concentrating our energies on the regulation of dangerous dog breeds in our overpopulated world as these attacks by pit-bulls and rottweilers - to name but two, seem on the increase.

The Red Fox is found in many countries as well as Britain and Europe. Thanks to foxhunting it was introduced to the USA and Australia. It is the largest and most populous fox species by far. An adult dog fox can weigh as much as 35 pounds, with an average of about 20 pounds. In his prime, he is one of the most attractive of all the Canidea. He has a lovely, rusty-red fur with a white belly, black tips on the legs and a bushy tail with a white tip. Very agile, the fox can outstrip any dog over short distances attaining speeds of 45 miles per hour.

Fox hunting has been banned in Britain since 2005. Now we have a Conservative government, we hear fox hunting may be introduced again and that there is pressure on Cameron to do so. This would be a great shame, this is a pseudo-sport confined in the main to the privileged classes and it is not something the voters of Britain want to see back.. It was hard enough to get rid of, we don’t want to see special interests bring it back. If foxes become an intolerable nuisance, culling should be approached in a humane manner. Our problem on Planet Earth is our inability to check human increase and how to cull ourselves!

Notes re attack.

They say a fox was killed on the premises.  How in hell was it still there after the hysteria surrounding the incident?  It seems it was sick or this story needs carefully investigating.  I can't suggest the parents are mistaken or worse, especially during their sad time, but it is just so rare for a fox to do this unless, as comments have suggested, we are coming into a new era of foxes in our city centers and they are made bold by starvation. 



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    • profile image

      JW 7 years ago

      I have just been chased part way home by a fox. I only just made it into my house and it stayed outside and circled my (ground floor) flat for a good ten minutes. I live in the Swiss alps. How can this be normal? I can't seem to find any/ much research on this at all.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Careful: Next they'll have foxes attacking smokers! It wouldn't surprise me a bit if the fox-hunting fraternity is spreading these stories in order to better their cause. Though I am not sure how the old "tally-ho" mob would rid us of the urban fox, unless the whole pack came chasing through your garden! Bob

    • profile image

      Chris 7 years ago

      A fairly young fox came up to me the other night while i was sitting in front of my house smoking a cigarette. He stayed with me for approx 5 minutes and sniffed my feet.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 7 years ago from The English Midlands

      We had foxes in our garden before we moved to our current address. They were beautidul and I was really annoyed when some people called in the exterminators ~ they didn't get them, I'm pleased to say!

      There have been a couple of reports of fox-attacks on children. I am not that surprised ~ as you say, foxes are related to dogs, and various dogs attack many children.

      Many more children must be attacked by dogs than are attacked by foxes.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      BTW Bob, your title has slipped into Spanish spelling I think, (feel free to delete this comment after you've checked the spelling!)

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 7 years ago from West By God

      You must be on my Facebook page and read the article I posted about Red Foxes. That was prompted by some killing a fox becasue they stated that it was attacking thier kids in his yard. I am in the USA and they tried that story with me on the one in London and I asked them to think really hard as to how the fox could have gotten in the house. Funny coincident that you have this after I needed it. I posted you link on my FB Wall.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks all. I wonder if this story can be true as well: Fox attacks on humans are so rare as to be non-existent. But they say a fox was killed in the garden...why was it still there in the garden after the incident? Some dumb fox, it would normally be miles away. Story has holes doesn't it? Doubt if it can be rabid in the UK

    • profile image

      nina johnson 7 years ago

      As the family had a dog i am suprised the fox entered the house without the parents being alerted. It just doesn't make sense.

      I am not suprised if the hunting fraternity try to use this as yet another lame excuse to legalise hounding wild animals to death for sport because it is their passion and they feel they have a divine right to do it.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      I often see foxes around near my home, and for the most part they are very shy of human contact. This attack is indeed a rare event, but nonetheless, it is a worrying one. I read recently that urban foxes are becoming hungrier, and therefore bolder, since the introduction of wheelie bins. Apparently cats are now being attacked in areas where food is scarce, and maybe this incedent has happened for similar reasons. I wonder if such occurences might become more common-place as waste food becomes less and less accessible?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      They are indeed beautiful and also useful in town as well in the countryside. It should not reinstated but it is a pure Conservative sport and therefore it will. That attack is indeed very unusual and I wonder if it had rabbies? Thank you for a wonderful hub.


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