The Fantastic Red Fox by Emma Shaw

  • The red fox is one of our most loved yet vilified wild mammals. They breed once a year between December and March. The females can sometimes be heard screeching at night early on in the mating period. A vocal sign that they are looking for mates.

    LISTEN to their distinctive call

    Males can mate with several partners during this time, hunting and sleeping with each vixen for around three weeks, monitoring the females scent marking to know when she is receptive to mating.

    WATCH a video of a vixen scent marking and WATCH a video of a dog fox following the scent of a vixen

    Copulation lasts just a few seconds and the pair can be locked together in a ‘copulatory lock’ for up to 90 minutes.

    Foxes usually have around four or five pups. Born after just 52 days they are deaf, blind and unable to initially thermoregulate. Cubs emerge from the den toward the end of April and introduced to a solid food diet. Adults provide the cubs with most of their food during this time making several food deposits per night. Come July their parents will start to drive them away as they start to concentrate on themselves and improving their own body condition. Their diet consists of small rodents, lots of earthworms, small birds, beetles and bugs.

    Foxes produce dog-like droppings that are usually pointy at one end and full of fur, feathers, tiny bones, seeds and berries. In rural areas, fox poo is quite dark, but in urban areas, where foxes eat human food waste, it can be lighter. Foxes tend to defecate in prominent places such as in the middle of tracks, on tufts of grass or rocks.

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    An easy way to tell if a print is a fox or dog is to place a blade of grass above outer two toe-prints. A fox print will have a slight gap between the back and the front pads. Generally, a fox print will be elongated and a dog shorter and wider.

    Foxes are found across most of the UK except the Scilly Isles, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and all Scottish islands except Skye and Harris. Current estimations of UK population are around 357,000 (Natural England & Mammal Society, 2018).

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