Do you ever go on walks at dusk? If you do, then there is a good chance you will see a fox. You can see foxes almost everywhere in the world. You might see it digging through trash cans or darting through trees. If you’re really lucky, you might see a baby fox, or cub. Foxes are animals that are well adapted to their environments…but what are their adaptations?
For one thing, there are more than 20 kinds of foxes that have adapted differently to different places. Red foxes live in North America, while gray foxes live mostly in Mexico and the US, while the Sahara desert is home to fennec foxes. They live everywhere but Antarctica. Australia did not always have foxes, but they were brought there for hunting. Now the foxes are considered pests. Even though there are so many kinds of foxes, only twelve are considered true foxes. True foxes are canines. Canines have a specific body shape and long, sharp teeth. They are very similar to dogs, coyotes, and wolves.
All foxes, no matter what the kind, live in dens. Most dens are tunnels underground, but some are in trees, under porches, or under rock ledges. Around their dens they mark their territory. They leave scents to mark this for other foxes. In each territory, a fox will have multiple dens. Foxes use 28 different calls to communicate with each other. These calls are: growls, whines, yips, and barks.
A female fox is called a vixen and a male fox is called a dog fox. A vixen and a dog fox will mate for life. This means they stay together until they die. Baby foxes are called kits. Each vixen has two to twelve kits each year, but sometimes a litter will stay and help the parents raise the next litter. At first they only drink their mother’s milk, because kits are born sightless. When they are four months old they learn to hunt. They mate in the late winter so that their kits are born in spring, when there is plenty of food.
When they are old enough, foxes will eat almost anything, including: small animals, insects, birds, eggs, fruit, berries and sometimes scraps and garbage. They will even eat dead things! When a fox has extra food, it will bury it underground for later. This helps hide the food from other animals. Foxes can smell food from a mile away. Foxes are nocturnal, which means hunt mostly at dawn and dusk. If they hunted during the day, all their prey would be asleep. They do not hunt in packs, but sometimes they will hunt with pups or mates.
From head to the base of the tail, foxes are normally 22-29 inches long. The smallest foxes are fennec foxes, at 3.3 pounds. Foxes generally live for three or four years, but some foxes live to 15. The oldest captive fox was 24 when it died. Some foxes are eaten by other animals, like bobcats, egals, and coyotes. Some other foxes die from pesticides or get hit by cars because of humans. Other times, foxes will be hunted for their fur or for food.
Fox fur helps them camouflage. It can be red, brown, white, gray, black, silver, yellow and sometimes mixed colors. Arctic foxes have the warmest fur of all mammals, and can withstand temperatures far below zero. Some foxes shed their fur. In the winter they will have a thick coat, while in the summer, they will have a light coat. You probably knew foxes have big fluffy tails, but did you know that it’s called a brush? It helps them balance and keeps them warm. They also use it and their ears to communicate with each other. Foxes also have whiskers that help feel movements around them.
I hope you enjoyed this and learned something along the way!