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Fox

foxFoxes are thriving in urban areas because they find plentiful food (mice and rats) in residential neighborhoods. Foxes frequently den under decks and sheds. They are not a threat to humans, not even to small children. If you suspect you have a fox den on your property, contact 911 Wildlife to schedule a wildlife specialist to conduct a professional inspection today.

Q.  There is a fox running around in the day so the animal must be rabid?

A.  Foxes haven’t read the textbooks telling them to be nocturnal.  It is quite common to see foxes hunting by day.  It is normal too for the kits to be seen playing by themselves, seeming to have no parents around, and perhaps showing little fear of people.  There’s usually no need for intervention – soon the parents will appear and soon the kits will learn to be wary of humans.  You can bang aluminum pot lids together to help teach the foxes to be fearful of people.  If the kit looks weak or sickly, call 911 Wildlife or your local animal control.

See more about rabies here.

General Information

It may come as a surprise that foxes – portrayed as the embodiment of elusiveness and cunning in folklore and fable – are common residents of many cities and towns.  In fact, thanks to research done in Europe and Australia, the red fox is undoubtedly the most thoroughly studied urban wildlife species.

Foxes are most closely related to coyotes, wolves, and domestic dogs.  But the many catlink behavioral traits they exhibit set them apart from other canids.  Of the six species of foxes found in North America, only two commonly live in close proximity to humans:  the red fox and the gray fox.  These two species have just what it takes to survive int he city – a high degree of adaptability when it comes to food, habitat, and activities.

Gray foxes are native North Americans.  They are between 31 – 44″ in length (nose to tail tip) and weight between 7 – 15 pounds.  They are shy and primarily nocturnal, feeding on small mammals and birds, eggs, insects, fruits, and carrion.  Grays are the only American canid with true tree-climbing ability, using this skill to forage and escape predators.  They are also good swimmers.

Red foxes are native to North America as well, but many were also imported here from Europe, primarily to perpetuate hunting traditions.  Only the red fox has a white tail tip.  They are 35 – 48″ in length and weigh between 7 – 17 pounds.

Foxes are generally, but not strictly, nocturnal, with a birthing season from March – May, and the young are independent at 6 months of age.   They can shift to a meatless diet that includes insects, berries, and plants when necessary.  Unlike many other mammals, red foxes are highly sensitive to low-frequency sounds.

The vast majority of conflicts between foxes and humans can easily be avoided, and humane methods of conflict prevention and resolution are available for the occasions when real problems do occur.  Often people seem to think that just seeing a fox in their neighborhood is indicative of a problem, when in fact that may not be the case.

Family Life

Mating typically begins for both red foxes and gray foxes in January or February.  Gestation is 51 – 53 days.  In both species the male helps rear the pups.  Some young may move away from their birthplaces before winter, but this appears to be a highly variable activity.

Female gray foxes will dig if necessary, but they prefer to den in clefts, small caves, rock piles, or hollow logs.  Female red foxes will establish a maternal site by digging or cleaning out a previously used den.  Extra dens may be prepared for use in case of disturbance.  Red fox parents may have one or more “helpers” who bring food to pups.  In general, as we learn more about foxes through careful and patient research, we find more and more evidence of rich and complex social lives.

Consequences of Feeding

We strongly caution against feeding wildlife if the practice can lead directly or indirectly to the harming of nay wild animals.  A fox who is acclimated to people will be at risk from many human activities and may be perceived as threatening and subjected to lethal control.  In Britain and elsewhere, foxes are fed regularly and systematically and are welcomed and accepted into the fabric of people’s lives – with no apparent harm to either.  In American culture, however, circumstances are different and we urge people not to intentionally feed foxes.