Foxes are various members of the dog family (Canidae)
small to medium-sized,
bushy-tailed dogs with long fur, pointed ears, relatively short legs,
and narrow snouts. In a more restricted sense, the name refers to about
10 species of true foxes (Vulpes), especially the red, or common, foxes,
V. vulpes of the Old World and V. fulva (included with V. vulpes
some authorities) of the New World.
Red foxes are widely held symbols of animal cunning and are the subject of a considerable amount of folklore. The native Old World form ranges over virtually all of Europe, temperate Asia, and northern Africa. The New World red fox inhabits most of North America north of Mexico. Red foxes, with their coats of long guard hairs and soft, fine underfur, are typically a rich reddish brown with white-tipped tail and black ears and legs. Color is variable; the color phases known as black and silver fox are found in North America, and the cross, or brant, fox is found in both North America and the Old World.
Red foxes are generally about 90-105 centimeters (36-42 inches) long (about 35-40 cm of this being tail), stand about 40 cm at the shoulder, and weigh about 7 kilograms (15 pounds). Their preferred habitat is mixed farmlands and woodlots. Small mammals, chiefly mice and rabbits, as well as eggs, fruit, and birds (including some domestic fowl) comprise the diet; remains of larger animals usually indicate that the fox fed on carrion. Red foxes mate in winter; after a gestation period of about 51 days, the female (vixen) gives birth to 1-10 cubs (pups) in a den, which is commonly a burrow abandoned by another animal and enlarged by the parent foxes. The cubs remain in the den for about five weeks and are cared for by both parents throughout the summer. Red foxes are hunted by man, one of their few enemies, for sport and fur.
Fox pelts, especially those of silver foxes, are commonly produced commercially on fox farms. Wild red foxes, although they are often destroyed for raiding hen houses, are highly beneficial in controlling undesirable rodents.
The other members of the genus Vulpes and the varieties of red foxes include the following:
African Sand fox or Pale fox.
Bengal fox or Indian fox (V. bengalensis) - small gray fox common in southern Asia.
Black fox, color phase of the red fox.
Blanford's fox (hoary fox).
Brant fox (cross fox) - yellowish brown color phase of the red fox, having a cross-shaped black marking extending across the shoulders and down the back.
Chama (caama, cama, kama) fox or South African silver fox - long-eared, gray-coated species of southern Africa, found particularly in the Kalahari Desert region; sometimes called fennec; length usually less than 60 cm.
Corsac (corsak) fox or Steppe fox (V. corsac) - small, steppe-dwelling fox of eastern Eurasia with a coat of yellowish brown or reddish brown,
Hoary fox (V. cana) - Eurasian species about 60 cm in length; coat gray above, white below.
Kit fox (V. macrotis) and swift or plains kit fox (V. velox) - large-eared pale foxes of western North American plains and deserts; possibly not separable as two distinct species; colour gray to yellowish brown with black-tipped tail; adult length about 40-50 cm without the 20-30-cm tail, weight about 1.5-3 kg; V. macrotis, smaller with larger ears; both forms live in burrows, feed on small animals (rodents, rabbits, insects); shy, uncommon, beneficial in rodent control.
Pale fox (V. pallida) - yellow to brown desert fox of northern Africa.
Ruppell's fox or Sand fox (V. ruppelli) - big-eared gray desert fox of northern Africa and southwestern Asia; sometimes also called fennec; length to 74 cm.
Samson fox - genetic mutant strain of red fox found in northwestern Europe; guard hairs lacking, underfur tightly curled,
Silver fox - a color phase of the red fox having a variable amount of white or white-banded hairs in the black coat.
Tibetan sand fox (V. ferrilata) - short-eared, short-tailed central Asian fox with a yellowish coat.
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