The wild fox
The fox is part of the Dog family, the Canidae, including wolves, Jackals and the friendlier domestic dog. The fox is a small rather dainty member of the dog family with over 20 species and more than half of these are classified as in the genus Vulpes. They all have large ears and bushy tails.
Foxes are very wary animals by nature with acute hearing, a keen sense of smell and they also have very quick eyes so as to spot movement from their prey, and predators. The fox has a very full thick coat from October to January, while during most of the summer it moults. The colour of their coat may vary from being a yellow brown to a red brown. Their rumps are often silvery in appearance with white tipped hairs and the lower legs and the backs of their ears are black. Their large bushy tails are tipped white.
The fox is usually found within the countryside in its usual habitat of open fields with woodland close by for shelter. However over recent years the fox has started to colonise in urban areas and is now better known in some parts as the Urban Fox. This is probably due to the resourceful nature of the fox. In its natural habitat a fox will mostly hunt for food at night, scavenging for carcasses or looking to kill small mammals such as rabbits and voles. In the summer the fox will catch many beetles and during the autumn months he will forage for fruits. The many foxes that live around the coastal areas happily feed on crabs, dead fish and sea birds. Obviously not all of these foods are available to Urban Foxes and subsequently they have learnt to forage on kitchen scraps by raiding the dustbins.
Some light reading of The Fox
Foxes are generally thought to be solitary animals, but they usually stay in small family groups, consisting of a dog (male), vixen (female) and the vixen’s cubs. Non breeding vixens from previous litters are allowed to stay with the family, where as young dogs are driven away to find their own territories as soon as they are fully grown. The non-breeding vixens are allowed to help with the rearing of litters. A litter can have anywhere up to 5 cubs in it. The fox cubs are usually born in an Earth or den that is dug out by the vixen. She may dig a new Earth or enlarge an old abandoned burrow.
A vixen will be pregnant for approximately 53 days before giving birth to her litter of cubs onto the bare soil within the Earth/Den; a vixen does not make a nest. The fox cubs are born blind with blue eyes and a dark brown coat. A cub will open its eyes between 10-14days and will not receive any food other than its mother’s milk until it is 3-4 weeks old. The first solid food it receives will be regurgitated food by its mother. By eight weeks of age their coats will have turned to the more recognisable Red-Brown and their eyes will have turned amber.
Unfortunately the wild fox became renowned for being a nuisance, raiding chicken runs killing all within them. Because of this foxhunting was created by the gentry to try and control the numbers in their locality. The sport of hunting foxes became a very social activity and the landscape that we see today was very much formed by the very people who did the foxhunting. They created copses for the foxes to have cover, but in doing this they also created new habitats for wildlife. Fox hunting with dogs is now a banned sport within the UK, although many still enjoy the thrill that fox hunting gives!
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