A fox is a small mammalian carnivore. They hunt and eat live prey, mostly rabbits and rodents (rats and mice). They may also eat grasshoppers, birds' eggs, and even fruit and berries. Sometimes they eat carrion. Foxes are the smallest members of the dog family Canidae.
|Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)|
Foxes are swift and agile runners which live in family groups. A female fox is called a vixen, and a male is called a dog. Foxes' tails are multi-purpose organs. Their bushy tail helps them keep warm while they are sleeping in cold weather. It is also part of the animal's food store for wintertime. Foxes' plump, bushy tail is easily seen, and is used for sending signals to its family members. The tail is also used for balance while running.
Foxes are found on all continents (except Antarctica), mostly living in forest, shrubland, and desert regions. They were not native to Australia, but were introduced in some way. In the United Kingdom, it was a common sport for people to hunt foxes with horses and dogs. This is now banned.
- "Most agricultural damage is caused by rabbits, and this can be considerable. Yet in lowland areas, rabbits comprise 45 to 70 per cent of the diet of foxes... One study estimated that, over its lifetime, each fox was worth between £150 and £900 in increased revenue to farmers... A strong argument against killing foxes".
The informal term 'true fox' refers to members of the Vulpes genus.
There are 12 species of Vulpus. They are:
- Bengal fox, Vulpes bengalensis
- Blanford's fox, Vulpes cana
- Cape fox, Vulpes chama
- Corsac fox, Vulpes corsac
- Tibetan sand fox, Vulpes ferrilata
- Arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus
- Kit fox, Vulpes macrotis
- Pale fox, Vulpes pallida
- Rüppell's fox, Vulpes rueppellii
- Swift fox, Vulpes velox
- Red fox, Vulpes vulpes (includes silver fox)
- Fennec fox, Vulpes zerda
- These exceptions do not really make foxes omnivores, better to say they are not entirely carnivores.
- Howard J. Bennett (14 October 2012). "Ever wonder why animals have tails?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
- NOAA report
- "Red Fox Vulpes vulpes". National Geographic. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
- BBC Wildlife
- Wozencraft W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In Wilson D.E. & Reeder D.M. Mammal Species of the World 3rd ed, Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 532-628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Bininda-Emonds, ORP; JL Gittleman, A Purvis (1999). "Building large trees by combining phylogenetic information: a complete phylogeny of the extant Carnivora (Mammalia)" (PDF). Biol. Rev. 74 (2): 143–175. PMID 10396181.