red fox Vulpes vulpes
What is a Red Fox?
A red fox is a mammal. Like all mammals, it has four limbs (legs). It has hair (fur). Its body temperature is kept at the same level regardless of the outside temperature. Its young are born after developing inside the mother's body in a special organ called the uterus. After birth, the young are fed with milk produced in the female’s mammary glands. It has a complex brain.
What does It Look Like?
The fur on the back is red-orange. The belly fur is white. The ears, legs and top of the feet are black. The red fox’s ears stand up straight. It has a fluffy tail with black hairs near the end and a white tip.
How Big is It?
The adult red fox has a head-body length of 22-25 inches. Its tail is 14-16 inches long. The weight of an adult red fox is about eight to 15 pounds.
Where does It Live?
The red fox may be found statewide in Illinois. It lives in grasslands, field edges, bottomland woods and brushy areas.
How does It Reproduce?
Mating occurs in January and February. The pups are born in March or April after a gestation period of 51 days. The family uses an underground burrow for their home while the pups are growing. After the pups are old enough, the family moves to another location. Families usually remain together until fall.
What does It Eat?
The red fox’s diet changes seasonally. Although classified as a carnivore, this species eats meats as well as other types of foods. In summer and fall, it feeds mainly on plants and insects. In winter and spring, small mammals are the preferred food items. Foods include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, persimmons, cherries, mulberries, apples, plums, grapes, acorns, birds, dead animals, frogs, turtles, grasses, insects, mice, voles and other small mammals.
Does Anything Eat It?
Red fox pups are eaten by coyotes (Canis latrans) and eagles. Coyotes and dogs can kill the adults but do not regularly prey on this species. Collisions with vehicles are a major cause of death for the red fox.
What Else should I Know About It?
- A male red fox is a “dog,” while the female is known as a “vixen.”
- The red fox is active mainly at night.
- It uses scent to mark its territory.
- It is a good climber.
- A red fox can make sounds including barks, whines, howls and yips.
Can I hunt It?
The red fox may be legally hunted in Illinois following all relevant laws and regulations. Specific hunting information about the red fox is included in the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations.