January 9, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday: The Fox

Photo credit: http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#evolution

Photo credit: http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#evolution

Photo credit: http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#evolution

Photo credit: http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#evolution
Foxes belong to the dog family, which includes wolves, coyotes, grey foxes, raccoon dogs and their relatives.  All members of this family are incredibly adaptable animals, and this makes them successful colonizers in many areas of the world practically in all habitats available and often in close proximity to humans. Foxes are ranked as the smallest of all canines. However, they have some characteristics different from other canines.

First, the fox doesn’t bark like other canines. They also don’t live in packs as they prefer to be out there on their own. The fox is nocturnal which means they are primarily active at night. When you see one moving around during the day it is a sign that something is seriously amiss.

They may be sick, desperately trying to find food, or moving to escape from threats in their natural environment. One of the biggest threats to the fox is the fact that humans continue to move into the same territory. While hunting them for the fur was once a huge issue, there isn’t the same demand for such fur coats in society any longer.

Photo credit: http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#evolution
The fox is considered to be a medium sized animal and the actual size can vary depending on the species. They can quickly take over an area if they are allowed to populate at will. This is why the hunting of the fox is often allowed with controls in place. There are certain times of the year when they can be hunted. Otherwise many of them would die from starvation.
These animals feature a reddish and brownish coloring to them. They also have areas of white on the body. They are small canines with long noses and long, pointed ears. They have excellent hearing and smelling that allows them to avoid danger and to find sources of food.

They consume a variety of food including animals such as rabbits, beetles and worms, and berries or fruit that grow seasonally in their environment. They are also known to consume food that people leave out or to dig through garbage cans. They body of a fox is built to give them speed for catching their prey.

They are found in a variety of environments including on the plains, in the mountains, in cold terrain, and even in the desert. There are very few places out there where the fox isn’t able to survive. They don’t have the best reputation with humans due to common folklore where they are associated with evil.

Photo credit: http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#evolution
Humans seem to be the biggest threat to these animals and their ultimate survival. Overall, they have nothing to worry about at this time. Yet numbers are much less than they were just a few decades ago. There are several species that have been almost wiped out from certain areas though. That is why you will find conservation efforts in place for them.

A great deal of research has been conducted about the fox. That is why some of them have been successfully relocated to Australia. They are thriving in that environment just as predicted. They also do very well in captivity so that they can be further studied. The fox is a fascinating animal that we still have lots to learn about.

A serious problem for the fox is that they are susceptible to a variety of different diseases in the wild. Even though they don’t live in packs, the do pass along these types of problems very rapidly. In fact, large numbers of fox have died at times due to it. Yet their ability to do well with change has always allowed them to rebound in numbers.


Random Facts about the Fox

The fox is said to be one of the most intelligent animals in the world.

The scientific name for this animal is Vulpes Vulpes.

There are 37 species of foxes, but only 12 belong to the genus "vulpes" or "true foxes". 

The best known of them are: Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Kit Fox, Fennec Fox, and the Gray Fox.

Foxes are members of the canine family and the smallest type of them. However, they hunt alone instead of in packs like other types of canines do.

A baby fox is called a kite. They are both deaf and blind when they are born. They will stay in a den with their mother for about a month for protection.

They are nocturnal creatures which means they are active at night time.

They are believed to be among the most adaptable animals in the world. They can do very well with changes in the food sources and their surroundings.

A fox can run at a speed of about 23 miles per hour for short periods of time.

In the wild foxes can live for about 10 years. In captivity that life cycle can be as long as 20 years. The fox is found everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere as well as in areas of Australia.

The fox doesn't communicate by barking as other canines do. Instead, it relies almost solely upon non verbal communication. This includes the posture of the body, tail waging, and facial expressions. Some of their verbal communications include yelps and  what sounds like human screams.

The fox has such a powerful sense of smell that it can even find food under the ground. This is how they find food sources in the winter time. It is also why they have been known to dig up dead animals such as family pets.

There are more fox habitats in cities than any other location. They are able to heavily populate a given area in no time at all. This is why the authorized hunting of them is allowed at various times in certain areas.

Large numbers of the fox populations in the wild have been depleted due to different types of disease. They are able to spread it very quickly and most of the time the animals will die if they have been exposed to such a problem.

The fox is classified as an omnivore. This means it will basically eat anything it needs to in order to survive.

Large numbers of fox die annually due to being hit by vehicles. The fact that these animals are active at night and that the roads are built through their habitat causes this to occur.
There are many connections to the fox in popular culture. It has ties to older ceremonies and traditions in various cultures. You will also find references in books, poems, and movies.
The fox kills other animals for survival and nothing more. There is a myth that they are known to kill just for the thrill of it. They are known to kill more food than they need though. Then they will bury it or hide it to consume later on when they are hungry.

The fox doesn't attack or kill humans. They can become infected with rabies which makes them very aggressive.

It is not true that the fox will attempt to breed with dogs when they live in close proximity to humans.

Approximately 20% of the young fox will die before they are one month old. When that occurs, the other young will consume it as a meal.


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