Sunday, January 18, 2009


My niece from Delaware sent me this great picture of her resident Red Fox she calls "Foxy". Brenda and her husband Mike Heindl live on a virtual naturalist's paradise at Oversee Farm, a Nature Conservancy property. (I hope they don't mind auntie dropping in for a visit).

Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes, is the most ubiquitous wild canine. This species can be found in the U.S., Canada, Europe, North Africa, most of Asia, Japan and it was even introduced to Australia. Weighing anywhere between 6.5 to 25 pounds, they are eating machines. They are omnivores with a diet consisting of fruit, worms, crayfish, rodents, rabbits, birds, eggs, amphibians, small reptiles, fish, carrion and even human garbage. In the U.S., fox weighing in on the hefty side usual reside in the areas to the north, while the daintier ones reside in the warmer areas to the south. Red Fox have small stomachs and therefore can only eat around 10% of their body weight. When they have an abundance of food, they will store it in shallow holes that they dig and position throughout their territory. This act insures if another animal discovers their bounty, all their supply will not be lost.

Red Fox have territories that can be as large as 20 square miles. Though they can be viewed during the day, fox are normally active at dawn and dusk and can even be nocturnal in areas where they encounter frequent human interference.

Red Fox can endure cold weather by growing a thick winter coat. The coat coloration can vary greatly from deep chestnut, rusty red to sandy blonde. There is also a rare color phase of the Red Fox that is black, seen above, which makes up a mere 10% of the population. Photo from Wikipedia. Such an ominous looking beast!

Red Fox can be fascinating to watch, as my niece can attest. These carefree clowns love to romp and rough-house. They are especially amusing to observe as they hunt, leaping high into the air and landing on a juicy vole or mouse. They have acute hearing, and can detect the slightest movement of a rodent under the thick grasses. A master at camouflage, they can lie in wait concealed in the tall grass. A rabbit has little chance at escape when it is surprised by a furry bullet that can reach a speed of 45 miles an hour.

Red Fox can be viewed at Eagle Creek Park and Holliday Park. The ones at Eagle Creek Park have raised young there, and if you are lucky enough, you can catch a glimpse of the kits in the spring frolicking in the park.

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