Red Foxes: From Farmland to Across the Globe

Become a red fox expert by reading a number of red fox facts, including what makes a fox den, the life of a fox kit and the role red foxes play in nature.

| November/December 2013

  • A red fox vixen and her kit.
    Photo By Fotolia/Schaef
  • Whether watching his prey from a tree or lurking in plain sight on the ground, when the sly red fox pounces, he usually doesn’t miss. Foxes use their big, bushy tail to aid balance.
    Photo By Fotolia/Pim Leijen
  • Whether watching his prey from a tree or lurking in plain sight on the ground, when the sly red fox pounces, dinner will be served.
    Photo By iStockphoto/photoL.
  • The red fox is cunning and cautious.
    Photo By iStockphoto/mauribo
  • Red foxes often kill more prey than they can eat, especially during mating season.
    Photo By iStockphoto/twildlife

The red fox easily adapts to its environment and can be found across the globe.

If you’ve ever seen the red fox in nature, consider yourself lucky. These creatures are cunning, cautious, and learn well from experience, sort of like a domestic pup quickly learns not to get too close to livestock after taking a hoof to the head. Some critters are smarter than others, and the reputed slyness of the fox, specifically the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), has served it well.

The red fox is among the most widespread predators on the planet. This species is found in northern Africa, most of Asia, throughout Europe (including Ireland and Britain), and across most of North America from Alaska to Mexico. Red foxes also inhabit most of Australia, having been introduced in the 1870s by English settlers who wanted to enjoy fox hunting. The animal’s wide distribution is attributable to its ability to adapt to a wide range of habitats, from cold northern forests to hot southern swamps, deserts, prairies, farmland, well-manicured suburbs and even occasionally the heart of cities.

The red fox gets its name from the fact that most have reddish-orange fur on their bodies, heads and tails. The lower legs are usually black (sometimes known as “socks”), as are the backs of their ears and parts of their muzzles. The tip of the tail is white, as is the throat and belly.

A couple of other color phases, or variations, are found in this species as well. The melanistic phase is completely black, the silver phase (highly prized for its fur) has black fur with white tips, and the cross phase is red with black across the shoulders.

The cross phase is common in Europe and is often seen in North American foxes, probably because European foxes were introduced to North America some time in the 1700s for hunting purposes. The silver phase and cross phase are rarely seen south of Canada.

1/15/2018 6:11:10 PM

I have seen several Wild Red Foxes through the years. Some of which have come within just a few feet of me. A couple I saw were when I was Deer hunting in my back yard. the one time I was sitting on the ground waiting and watching for deer to come through the one corn field behind my house. Suddenly I heard this noise. I slowly turned my head to see what it was coming through the weeds and along the edge of the corn field. As it approached the small opening in the "fence row" I saw that it was a Red Fox, it looked at me sniffed that air sniffed the ground and just continued to slowly walk along the edge of the edge of the cornfield. The next time was a couple years later during deer hunting season again. I had decided to talk a walk through the corn fields behind my house. I got to another "fence row" and took a break. I was standing there and heard this noise. I knew it was an animal walking through the weeds. But was it a deer, a coyote or something else? As it got closer the noise suddenly stopped a few feet away. Then as I was looking to my left towards the gravel lane that goes through the property, I noticed the Red Fox cross the gravel lane and go into the brush/weeds on the other side only about 10 feet away. Another time I saw a Red Fox was when i was scouting before Deer Season on State Game Lands. I was sitting at my "hunting location" and heard a noise of something walking through the leaves on the ground. I turned and looked to see what it was and noticed that it was either a small coyote or a fox. As it got closer toward me that is when I could tell it was a Red Fox. It was about 25 yards away. Then as I was walking out to go back to my vehicle, I saw a Red Fox run across the trail 20 feet in front of me chasing a small rodent! I have seen many dead along the roads. and have seen a few alive standing along the road. I have also had other experiences seeing Red Foxes while afield.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds