A notorious chicken thief in cartoons and fairy tales, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) isn't as deceitful or cunning as its reputation suggests. Yes, this member of the wild dog family is an expert hunter who invades poultry yards, but its acute senses make it a chemical-free pest controller to farmers and gardeners. The red fox hears movement, even underground—prompting it to dig, capture, and eat numerous crop-destroying mammals, rodents, and insects.
Just the facts
- About 3 feet long at maturity, and weighing between 10 and 15 pounds, the red fox is the largest of all foxes. Its large bushy tail takes over one-third of its entire body length.
- Semiretractable claws means the red fox is quiet--it runs on the balls of its feet and can reach speeds up to 45 m.p.h.
- Dog (male) and vixen (female) foxes are usually monogamous. A vixen mothers an average of five cubs in a burrowed den, while a dog hunts and gathers food for his cubs: mice, earthworms, squirrels, rabbits, bugs, even berries.
- Although large dogs, coyotes, and wolves consider the red fox mouthwatering prey, the popularity of fur as fashion makes humans the red fox's prime predator.