The red fox animal is a type of fox. It is a living creature of the animal kingdom. In the biological classification system, the animal kingdom has a total of 12 phyla. Chordata phylum has five classes. Among them, the red fox is an animal of the Mammalia class. It is the largest fox in the world. The red fox is found all over the world equally. They are found in Asia, Europe, America, and Australia. The red fox is an omnivorous animal. It has an elongated body with short limbs. They communicate through their body language. Red foxes behave like wild animals. They live in small groups. The red fox has a winter species in mountain areas. They have soft and silky skin. Though they are known as red foxes, they have varieties in body colour such as red, grey, blackish-brown, amber, etc. The red fox has binocular vision. In this article, we are going to discuss characteristics, behaviour, habitation, food habit, structure, reproduction, ecology, and other things about the red fox.
Red Fox in Animal Kingdom
In the biological classification system, all the living creatures are classified into two kingdoms- plant kingdom and animal kingdom. In the animal kingdom, the Chordata phylum has five classes- Fish, Amphibia, Reptilia, Avis, and Mammals. The red fox is an animal of class Mammalia. The order and family are Carnivorea and Canidae. The scientific name of the red fox is Vulpes Vulpes. Usually, red foxes are known as common foxes all over the world. After human beings, the red fox has the largest distribution of nature in the world.
Classification Characteristics of Red Foxes
In the classification system, all the plants and animals are placed under particular phylum and classes. They are placed in a position depending on their characteristics. The red fox is an animal of the Chordata phylum and Mammalia class. It is placed under the class Mammalia for the following characteristics.
The entire body of the red fox is covered with hair.
Red foxes have hair in their ears.
The female red foxes have active mammary glands.
The lower jaws of the red fox are structured with a single bond.
Red foxes have heterodont, diphyodont, and thecodont types teeth.
Red foxes reproduce in sexual reproduction in the mating of male gamete (sperm) and female gamete (eggs).
The Etymology of Red Fox
The word 'fox' came from Old English Language, which is derived from photo-germanic ‘fuhsaz’. This word means Foks in West Frisian, Vos in Dutch, Fuchs in German. All these words mean a mammal with a hairy body, short height, and wild behaviour. The name red fox was given because most of them are red. Other colours of foxes are also available. Red foxes are also known as common foxes. The scientific name of red fox came from the Latin word Vulpes, which means fox. The adjectives of fox in Latin are Vulpine and Vulpecula.
Body Structure of Red Foxes
Red Boxes are the largest animals of their genus. The adult red foxes have a height of 35-50 cm. The body length is 45-90 cm. The tail is almost more than half of the body length, which is 30-55 cm. Red foxes are lightweight compared to their volume. They have an average weight of 2.2-14 kgs. Female foxes are 15-20% lightweight than male ones. Red foxes have an elongated body with comparatively shorter limbs. The tail is fluffy and touches the ground. Red foxes can jump over 2 meters in height.
Red foxes have elongated and narrow skulls along with small braincases. They have long canine teeth for eating flesh. Red foxes have binocular vision. They have oval and vertically oriented pupils. Red foxes have five digits in the forepaws and four digits in the back paws. Though red foxes are mostly red, they have other varieties in body colour such as grey, amber, blackish-brown, silver, platinum, samson, etc.
Red Fox Habitat
Among the mammals, red foxes are the largest distributed animal in the world after human beings. Red foxes have a wide range of species and they habitat almost all over the world. They cover nearly 70 million km² areas of the world. Red foxes are found all across Europe. In Africa, they are found in the north part and the Sahara desert. In Asia, they are found all over the continent except the Southeast part. Red foxes live in North America except the southwestern part. Red foxes are absent in Mexico, Greenland, Iceland, Siberia, New Zealand, etc. In New Zealand. Red foxes are marked as prohibited new organisms. Red foxes were first discovered in Australia.
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Food Habit of Red Foxes
Red foxes are omnivorous animals and they have a highly varied diet. Generally, they hunt small mammals up to 3.5 kgs. Their primary preys are mice, voles, hamsters, ground squirrels, gerbils, pocket gophers, woodchucks, deer mice, etc. Their secondary preys are different types of birds, leporids, raccoons, porcupines, opossums, reptiles, insects, other flotsam and invertebrates, fish, marine mammals, etc. Rarely, red foxes attack small ungulates. Red foxes have a daily requirement of 500 gm food. They readily eat plants and fruit. Among fruits, red foxes eat blueberries, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, persimmons, apples, mulberries, plums, acorns, grapes, etc. Also, they eat plant materials such as tubers, grasses, sedges.
Hunting Process of Red Foxes
Generally, red foxes hunt in the early morning and the evening. When they hunt the primary prey, they first detect the exact position of the prey by sound. They stay 5 meters away and then leap on the prey steering in mid-air with the tails. Red foxes are very possessive about their prey. They can even protect the prey from any dominant animal. Occasionally, red foxes commit surplus killing. Red foxes don’t like the taste of moles. They hunt moles and we give their children to play with.
Behaviour of Red Foxes
Red foxes are wild animals. They live in family groups and share joint territories. With low hunting pressure and favourable habitats, subordinate red foxes can be found in a range. In such habitats, up to eight subordinate foxes can be present. These subordinate foxes help in the breeding. Non-breeding foxes protect the territories and play with the children. A small red fox can leave the territory after being an adult. It is an example of Kin selection. If they stay in the territory, they have to postpone their reproduction. Red foxes mark their territories with urine. They use up to 12 urination postures, which help them to make scent marks. These are the general social and territorial behaviour of red foxes.
Reproduction Process Of Red Foxes
Red foxes reproduce in the sexual reproduction process. They reproduce in spring. Two months before the oestrus period, the reproductive organs of the female animals change in size and shape. Before entering the oestrus period, the uterine horns become double in size and the ovaries become 1.5-2 times the original size. From August-September, sperm formation starts in the male animals. Their testicles attain the greatest weight in December-February.
The oestrus period lasts for three weeks. During that time, the male foxes mate with the female foxes several times. The gestation period of foxes is 49-58 days. After that, kits are born deaf, blind, and toothless. They get their eyes open and teeth after some days. They become sexually mature at the age of 9-10 months. Thus, red foxes complete their reproduction process and maintain heredity. Red foxes live 18 months to 2 years in the wild.
Communication Process of Red Foxes
Red foxes use some particular processes to communicate. Usually, they use different body language for communication. The body languages include movements of tails, ears, different postures, etc. Their postures can be of two types dominant or aggressive and submissive or fearful. When the red faxes attack the prey, their postures are aggressive. When they are afraid or sense any danger, the postures are submissive. Red foxes have a wide range of vocal cords. They can make different types of sounds. Adult animals can make around 12 types of sounds and the kits make 8 types of sounds. They make these sounds as interaction and contact calls.
Ecology of Red Foxes
Red foxes are the most dominant species of foxes in their habitation. All other species cannot get the right over food in front of the red foxes. They dominate their prey in their habitats. In any habitat, wolves dominate the red foxes. They can even kill and eat the red foxes. In some habitats, red foxes share their living place with golden jackals. In that case, both of them have to survive by competitive exclusion. Sometimes, red foxes compete with striped hyenas.
Did You Know?
Now, we will discuss some unknown facts about red foxes.
Red foxes use the underground burrow as their den, which is known as earth.
During the breeding season, red foxes make mating calls, which are sharp and high-pitched screaming noises.
If any subordinate fox gives birth to a kit, the other subordinate foxes or the dominant female fox kill the small red fox.
Red foxes are born blind and deaf.
Red foxes can climb trees and settle on low branches.