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Red Fox

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Mammal

Description

Red foxes have long snouts and red fur across the face, back, sides, and tail. Their throat, chin, and belly are grayish-white. Red foxes have black feet and black-tipped ears that are large and pointy. One of the most noticeable characteristics of the red fox is the fluffy white-tipped tail. Red foxes are about three feet long and two feet tall.

Red foxes are often confused with gray foxes, which share a similar habitat and range. This can make identification difficult, because some red foxes can have large patches of gray fur and gray foxes have patches of red fur. Gray foxes are somewhat smaller and have a slightly more rounded face and shorter snout. The surefire way to tell the difference is to look for the color at the tip of the tail. Gray foxes have black-tipped tails, while red fox tails are white. Although they are very similar in name and appearance, the gray fox and the red fox are only distant cousins, belonging to different genera in the family Canidae.

Range

Red foxes can be found throughout the continental United States from Alaska to Florida. The smallest population is in the Southwest, where it is very rare to see a red fox. Red foxes like open areas in woodlands, rural and suburban neighborhoods, wetlands, and brushy fields.

Diet

Red foxes prefer rodents and rabbits, but they will also eat birds, amphibians, and fruit. Red foxes will also steal food from garbage cans or farms. Their ability to find food, even during the winter, is one reason why red foxes have a reputation for being cunning and smart.

Life History

Red foxes mate in winter. Right after mating, a female builds a den. Females can deliver anywhere between one and 12 pups per litter. Pups are born brown or gray, usually turning red within about a month. Both parents take care of their offspring until the next fall, when the young foxes set out on their own.

Conservation

Red foxes have adapted well to suburban and rural communities. While other large predators have been pushed away from human development, red foxes took advantage of the changed habitat. They live in parks and woodland edges, and red foxes will readily eat whatever is available. Red foxes are solitary, so it is easy for them to hide and escape people.

Fun Fact

Red foxes have excellent hearing. They can hear low-frequency sounds and rodents digging underground.

Sources

National Geographic

NatureWorks, New Hampshire Public Television

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