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The Red Fox: Connectivity for Cunning Creatures

This is post 2 of 2 in "Connectivity for Wild Creatures."

In this series, we're profiling certain wild creatures who will greatly benefit from protected and connected landscapes across North America. You'll learn about American martens, foxes, and more, as well as what Wildlands Network is doing on the ground to protect these creatures and help them thrive. To learn more about our efforts, please explore our Wildways in the Rewilding North America tab. All posts in this series…

Interested in taking action for wild creatures like red foxes? Donate to our efforts to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so that all life can thrive.

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Physical Description

Length: 2 to 4 feet
Weight: 4.9 to 31 pounds
Lifespan: 2- 4 years
Family: Canidae
Relatives: wolves, coyotes and dingoes

Red fox. Photo: USFWS

Red foxes, or the common fox, boast one of the most beautiful coats in the animal kingdom. Most specimens possess a rusty red undercoat with long guard hairs. Most famously, red foxes possess a long, bushy tail that is 1/3rd of its size, predominantly used for balance and communication with other foxes. With a triangular face and long, pointed ears and muzzle, the fox is known for being one of the most cunning animals in North America.

Habitat Range and Population

Red foxes lay claim to the title of the most widely dispersed mammal populations in the world. Red foxes are present across the entire Northern Hemisphere, from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, North America and Eurasia. They also can be found in Australia as an invasive species, where they present a threat to native plant and wildlife.

Red fox kits play together. Photo: Jim Stutzman

However, in North America particularly, red fox habitats are becoming increasingly sparse, and as they adapt to urban and suburban life, they are widely viewed as a pest and are being killed as such.

One subspecies of red fox, the Sierra Nevada red fox, is considered one of the most highly endangered mammals in the United States. Currently, as climate change dramatically alters the foxes’ habitat, the Sierra Nevada red fox is in danger of disappearing from the United States’ landscape forever. Other dire threats include a perilously small population size, reduced genetic diversity, logging, off-road and over-snow vehicles, livestock grazing, and fish stocking.

Diet

The red fox is an omnivore and a voracious eater, as they continue to hunt when they are full and will store extra food for later. There are very few things the red fox cannot and will not eat, mainly other animals that are bigger than the fox itself. Their diets include fruits, berries, and grasses. Foxes also eats birds and small mammals like squirrels, rabbits, and mice. A large part of the red fox’s diet is made up invertebrates like crickets, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, and crayfish.

Red fox yawns. Photo: Lisa Hupp, USFWS

Red foxes play a critical role in their environment by dispersing fruit and vegetable seeds, as well as controlling small prey populations, which are critical to the health of native plant life.

Action Plan

For red fox populations to regain stability, forest protections, habitat connectivity, and continued education on coexisting with wildlife are critical. Wildlands Network will continue to work on protecting forests that are crucial to wildlife habitats and supporting legislation that will increase habitat connectivity.

Currently in Oregon, where Sierra Nevada red foxes are facing decreased populations due to fragmented forests, Wildlands Network is currently supporting state legislation that will help reconnect their habitats leading to greater genetic diversity and resources of food and water that will potentially help the Sierra Nevada red fox’s population to grow and flourish.

Additionally, Wildlands network has and will continue to work with ranchers and private landowners and government agencies to educate the general public on the importance of living with and maintaining a balanced ecosystem for wildlife. Help protect this cunning and adorable member of our forests and mountains today by taking action or donating to support our conservation efforts!

More posts from Connectivity for Wild Creatures

  1. American Martens Can Thrive in Protected and Connected Habitats, April 30, 2019
  2. The Red Fox: Connectivity for Cunning Creatures, May 10, 2019
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