Description: The red fox is one of the few foxes found in almost every country in the northern hemisphere. This fox generally ranges from 10 - 30 pounds. A male fox is called a dog, and females are known as vixens. The vixens weigh on average 20% less than males. This species experiences sexual dimorphism, which simply means the females are slightly smaller than the males, also experiencing smaller cranium sizes. The tail is longer than half the body length, and tipped in white.
There are many color morphs, the only ones occurring in the wild are Red, Silver, and Cross phases. However, in captivity, there have been many variations. See below for more info.
Red Foxes blow their coat once a year, and have shorter fur during the summer while growing dense, soft fur for the winter. In captivity, they live an average of 14 years, but in the wild, they only live an average of 2 years.
Social Behavior/Temperament: Red foxes are generally deemed as a one person fox. However, there have been rare cases, if properly socialized, where the fox will be accustomed to meeting new people and pets. Reds should never be left unsupervised with any animal, as their behavior can change with the snap of their moods. The best comparison of a Red Fox is to a toddler in the 'terrible twos' stage, except the red fox will be in it their whole life.
They aren't interested in pleasing you like a dog would be; they are more independent like a cat where they do what they want when they want. Out of the two, Reds and Arctic foxes, Red foxes are more catlike - aloof, independent, love to climb, and antisocial.
However, they can be trained to use a litter box with almost a 100% success rate, after much devotion, and they can be taught tricks, like dogs. The key is that they are treat and food motivated, more like a cat. Praise alone does not work with training. It is not uncommon to see Red Foxes that can be walked on a leash like a dog, and taught similar commands (with extremely dedicated owners).
Red Foxes are said to be one of the smelliest foxes as well as Arctics. They utilize urine and scat to mark territory, food, and toys. They also have anal scent glands that can be let out if scared, similar to a skunk, or a domestic canine's anal glands.
There is a stage in the fox's life when you will think it is unbearable. Since fox kits are born in the spring, and most kits reach the age of 6 months around the fall, people call this the 'October Crazies.' Once they hit 6 months, it is similar to a dog where they reach their teenager stage - except worse. Much worse. They test their authority, becomes smellier, get bored more easily and therefore destructive, and pretend they don't know what you are asking them to do if they don't feel like it, similar to human teenagers. From 6 months to approximately 1 year are the hardest months, and if you can stick those out, you will be able to handle them the rest of their lives.
Breeding: Red Fox young are called kits. They produce kits once a year in spring, and typically have 4 - 6 kits. The kits are born blind and deaf, and have a brown down type fur to help them camouflage in the underbrush,away from predators. The kits become more self-sufficient at about 3 - 4 months. They reach sexual maturity at about 9 months of age.
Captivity: Unfortunately, it is in a foxes' nature to fear predators, aka people. If not properly socialized from a young age, foxes will become timid, fearful, and even aggressive. Generally speaking, they only truly bond to one person, and are a one-person fox. That combined with their musky odor and destructive habits is why we would only recommend them with an experienced fox owner. However, we have seen a few Red Foxes that loved people, thrived with attention, and love other pets. Even though this might be the case, they can always revert back to their wild instincts if not socialized on almost a daily basis. It is for this reason I would recommend a more social fox, one that lives in groups in the wild, such as Fennecs, Corsacs, Kits, or Swifts for a first time owner.
Range: Red foxes are the most widespread fox on the planet, and this is due to their ability to adapt to almost any environment. While not native to each continent, humans used to introduce them for hunting. In some continents such as Australia, they are considered invasive wildlife and a nuisance. They can survive in dense woods, city areas, and even freezing climates.
Red Foxes are unique since they are on almost every continent in the world and are extremely adaptable. In the wild, they would be omnivores, eating mice, plants, insects, and fruits and veggies if possible, so their diet must reflect this in captivity. They do not have specific diet restrictions in comparison to other foxes, so you can read more about a good diet on the 'Diet & Adopting' page.
Color Morphs: There are many more color morphs other than those listed below, these are just some of the common ones found on fur farms and ranches. Their gene code is listed if known.
-Natural Red- AABB
-Silver Phase- AAbb
-Cinnamon Phase- AAbbgg or brCbrC
-Marble Phase (Can have various patterns; left is a ring-neck pattern similar to border collie)-
-Champagne Fox- AABBcc
-All White [Form of Marble]-
*Image from Tiny Tracks Exotics (See the breeder page)
-Fire and Ice (One of my personal favorites, almost all white with black ears and feet) -
*Tiny Tracks Exotics is the only known breeder for this morph (See the breeder page)
*Some images from www.eau.ee