If most people were asked to describe a fox, probably red would be the most common color mentioned, followed by, a big bushy tail! There are several other types of foxes, grey, kit and artic to name a few, but in our area the red fox seems to be the most common. One sure way to identify the red fox is the white tip of its bushy tail; all the others do not have that feature. Some other characteristics include prominent pointed ears, and the backs of ears, lower legs and feet are black. The Red Fox does have several color variations, including a black phase (almost completely black) a silver phase ( black with silver tipped hairs ) and a cross phase ( reddish brown with a dark cross across the shoulders ) NOTE: All Red Foxes regardless of phases have a white tipped tail!!
They mate January through early March and have 1 litter of 1 – 10 kits born March through May in a maternity den. A fox’s gestation is 51-53 days.
Always known for being cunning, in reality, their success is because they are extremely cautious! Like other canids, they are very capable of learning from experience. Even when fairly common, they can be difficult to observe, because of being shy, nervous and primarily nocturnal. It eats whatever is available, in summer depending heavily on vegetation including corn, berries, apples, cherries, grapes, acorns and grasses. In winter on birds and mammals including mice, rabbits, squirrels and woodchucks. Invertebrates such as grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, beetles and crayfish compose about one-fourth of its diet.
The hearing of a red fox differs from that of most mammals in that they are most sensitive to low-frequency sounds. The fox listens, for the underground digging, gnawing and rustling of small animals. When it hears those sounds, it frantically digs into the soil or snow to capture the animal. The red fox is cat like in stalking its prey. In larger prey, it tries to get as close as possible, then runs the prey down after it bolts. The red fox continues to hunt when full, caching away excess food under leaves, snow or soft dirt. Probably finds these caches by memory, aided by smell.
Did you know, an adult fox rarely retires to a den in winter. In the open, it curls into a ball, wrapping its bushy tail about its nose and foot pads and at many times is completely covered by snow! Adult foxes are usually solitary, until mating season. The maternity den is established and kits are fed by the adults. At first the mother predigests and regurgitates meats, but soon she brings live prey, enabling the kits to practice killing. Adult red foxes have few enemies, other than humans and the automobile. Mange, rabies and distemper are also problems.
Foxes have adapted well to man and are very smart to stay pretty much out of sight when they can. Hope you enjoy these several encounters that I have had in my travels about.
In the photo here, this was a chance encounter with a fox that I think you will enjoy. My game plan was to go to dinner, then head over to Sunset Pointe and maybe get some Sunset Photos for the last Sunset of Summer 2015. I am approaching Allamuchy Township’s Town Hall and notice a fox has just crossed the street and is walking south toward me on Alphano Rd. I quickly pull into the parking lot and take some photos. He is continuing along the road, so I pull out and stop at the Fire Department’s driveway and continue taking photos. The fox continues to head south so I again start my car and drive through the upper lot and then park along the road by the lower lot entrance, near the Rain Garden – detention basin. The fox begins to cross the street right by where I am parked and passes within 25 feet of my car, entering into the rain garden, at which time I back up to get a better view looking down into the garden.
This fox has obviously adapted to living among people! Traffic, except for several fast and loud vehicles, didn’t faze him. He look at me several times, and I am always just across the street from him in my car, which I moved four times!! When in the rain garden all the noise and commotion from the playground didn’t faze him and a guy walked along the top edge of the rain garden going to the fire house and he could have cared less!!
I think my favorite photo is the movie watching him scratch!! I could almost feel the obvious delight he was getting, especially as he stretched his head and neck skyward with obvious bliss!! I was almost expecting a yelp, or possibly an AHHHHH!! It looked that gooood!!
Please follow link to my Flickr for my chance encounter – https://www.flickr.com/photos/charliefineran/albums/72157658917491026
Please follow link to my Flickr site for more photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/charliefineran/albums/72157642798005553
Yours in Nature,