Foxes are medium-sized omnivorous mammals and part of the Canidae family, which also includes dogs, wolves and jackals. They tend to have orange colouration, flattened skulls, pointy triangular ears, and slightly upturned snouts.
What Do Foxes Eat?
Foxes have been remarkably successful because of their ability to consume a wide variety of food. These animals can get the calories that they need from pretty much anywhere, including human food waste.
In the wild, foxes are naturally predatory animals and will attempt to catch and eat birds, rabbits, rodents and amphibians. They will also dine on plant foods, such as berries and fruit when it becomes seasonally available.
Urban foxes are famous for rifling through bins, but they also play an essential role in the built-up environment, feasting on vermin such as rats and pigeons.
If foxes come into your garden, you can feed them cooked meat and tinned dog food. They will also happily scoff cheese, peanuts and fruit.
Ideally, you should only make food available to foxes at certain times of the day. Leaving food out all night long can attract rats.
Where Do Foxes Live?
The majority of the foxes in the UK live in rural settings. Estimates put the total population at around 357, 000, with about 200, 000 living in the countryside. Approximately 150, 000 may now live in towns and cities.
In the wild foxes live in burrows. Their powerful claws make them excellent diggers, able to excavate deep holes in the ground fast.
Sometimes foxes won’t go to the bother of creating a sheltered bolt hole. Many choose to live above ground, so long as they can find adequate shelter.
Do Foxes Eat Cats?
Foxes and domestic cats are about the same size. Thus, a wild fox will rarely take on a cat in an attempt to eat it and vice versa. Mostly, these two predatory animals will give each other a wide berth.
Foxes, however, are opportunistic feeders and may carry off young kittens if the mother isn’t present. If you have kittens at home, you may want to keep them indoors until they are large enough to look after themselves.
If a fox does decide to attack a domestic cat, the cat will usually defend itself or quickly run out of danger. Fights between foxes and cats are rare.
What Noise Does A Fox Make?
Ever since the population of urban foxes exploded around the turn of the 20th century, people have been very interested in the noises that they make and what they mean. Researchers believe that foxes can produce around 28 different sounds. However, you are very unlikely to hear most of them. Most of them occur in the burrow and are exceptionally quiet.
Why Do Foxes Scream?
Despite their considerable repertoire, humans typically only hear two types of fox sounds: one caused by a vixen (female fox) calling for a mate and the other by foxes looking for friends.
During the winter, female foxes will let out a loud “woo” noise signalling to males in the area that they are ready to breed. People often initially mistake the sound for screaming humans.
The other sound -the dog fox bark - is an “a-woo” sound. Foxes do it to call friends and warn off rivals.
Sometimes you might hear the sound of fox cubs or a baby fox if you live near a nest. They make a repeated “ack” sound as they scrap with each other in the burrow.
Are Foxes Dangerous?
Foxes, in general, are not dangerous to humans and will not attack unless captured or handled. Even then, most foxes will attempt to escape rather than bite their captors.
Foxes are, however, can predate many small animals and livestock. Rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens kept outside are all at risk. Ideally, vulnerable livestock should be kept indoors at night to prevent predation. If you need to keep animals out, build sturdy cages that are impervious to fox bites. Do not rely on standard chicken wire. Instead, use more robust steel wire mesh.
Foxes are also dangerous for people growing fruits in their gardens, occasionally eating them to supplement their diets. They won’t usually bother with vegetables.
If you see a fox running through your garden, it is probably on its way to its regular hunting grounds. Under these circumstances, you do not need to take any action.
Do Foxes Hibernate?
Foxes do not hibernate, meaning that you can spot them year-round. As discussed, the fox mating season is usually in the winter, which means that baby foxes typically arrive in the spring, just in time for the warmer weather and greater availability of food.
In the summer, you can often see cubs playing outside of the burrow for the first time.
How Do You Know If You Have Foxes In Your Garden?
Foxes get a bad rap in the media and popular culture for the damage and destruction they wreak on in gardens. But the truth is that they are naturally coy animals that leave relatively little evidence of their activity.
Fox poo is one sign that you have foxes in your garden. Typically, they will leave droppings in prominent places, such as right in the middle of your lawn.
If you are very observant, you may also detect a “fox smell” in your garden - a kind of musty odour the animals give off when their den is nearby.
Other evidence that you have foxes includes holes in the lawn, chewed up toys and shoes, and half-eaten fruit that has fallen off trees. You can also look for evidence of trampled plants.
Please note that foxes are excellent diggers. If your lawn has beetle grub - one of their favourite foods - they will plough it up completely, creating a terrible mess.
Can You Buy A Pet Fox?
Just a century ago, no pet foxes existed anywhere. But an eccentric Russian scientist called Dimitry Belyaev began secret experiments to engineer a domestic fox in the late 1950s.
Belyaev noted that some foxes were less aggressive to humans than others, suggesting he could tame them. He selectively bred animals with docile traits through successive generations, giving the offspring a temperament that was more and more like modern dogs. Eventually, the result was the domesticated fox - something that you can import from Russia today.
These foxes require quite a bit of love and attention, and they are expensive to buy because supply is so limited. But once you have the right import documentation and you pay all the fees, they make for exciting pets.
Domesticated foxes are different from their wild counterparts at the genetic level. They have much less aggression and will rarely bite people, if ever. They are highly docile, like most domesticated animals.
The success of the program comes from the fact that foxes are canids - part of the same family as dogs. And like the world’s most popular pet animal, they make great companions. They’re playful, quiet, and enjoy spending time in human company, though they retain a strong independent streak.
- Baby foxes are called cubs or pups
- Foxes are unique in the dog world for their ability to retract their claws
- Foxes have vertical pupils that look similar to those that cats have
- Foxes are the most prevalent type of wild dog in the world, living in practically every habitat, including arctic tundra
- Newly born fox pups cannot see or hear when first born, requiring around-the-clock care from their mothers
- Fox hunting remains a sport in some parts of the world, including Ireland, Australia and North America
- Foxes have one of the most varied diets of any land mammal and will eat human leftovers, berries, rodents and birds
- Grey foxes are the only type of dog that regularly and naturally climbs trees
- Foxes are members of the same family of animals as dogs, wolves and jackals
Types of Foxes
Here are some of the most common fox species:
· Arctic fox
The arctic fox is perhaps the most beautiful of all foxes in the world, thanks to its striking white coat and deep jet eyes. Also known as the white or polar fox, this species lives in the northern hemisphere and is common throughout Arctic tundra. Its conservation status is currently “least concern” meaning that the population is stable.
· Corsac fox
The corsac is a mid-sized fox that dwells in the steppes of Mongolia and the north-eastern expanses of China. These foxes are highly adapted to arid climates and derive the majority of the water they need from their food.
· Tibetan fox
The Tibetan fox is famous for its flat, square face and comical appearance. It lives on the Tibetan Plateau to the north of the Himalayas and has been spotted as high as 5, 300 metres above sea level. Adults can grow up to 5. 5 kg.
· Swift fox
The swift fox is a small orange-tan fox that lives in the mountains of Colorado as well as other mid-western states. Adults weigh up to 2. 1 kg.