The fox is a member of the dog family,
with reddish fur and usually a white tip to the tail.
The sexes are similar in appearance
but the male (dog) is usually larger than the female
(vixen), measuring around 110cm from
nose to tail and 40cm high at the shoulder. A
mature vixen weighs about 5.5kg.
The Fox (Vulpes
Foxes are mainly nocturnal and
although they can sometimes be seen in the daytime they
usually lie up where there is plenty
of thick cover. In urban areas there are plenty of suitable
places along railway lines, parks,
cemeteries, derelict land and overgrown gardens. They may
go to ground in earths which may be
specially dug or adapted from rabbit or badger burrows.
They may also use dens under sheds or
other buildings. They have some limited climbing
Both sexes look alike but the vixen is
usually smaller. Males weigh from 4.5 to 9.5kg and
females from 3.2 to 6.8kg. Mating is
usually late January and early February. Litters are born
during late March and early April
after a gestation period of 53 days. The most common litter
size is five. The cubs are weaned
gradually from the age of 4-5 weeks and stay with the vixen
until they’re 3-4 months old.
Foxes live mainly on their own except
in the breeding season. They avoid clear open spaces
such as playing fields. Foxes have a
very varied diet, which may include small mammals,
young birds, insects, carrion and
fruit when in season. Town foxes will scavenge in bins and
on rubbish tips.
Signs of Foxes
Claw marks, evidence of feeding at the
entrance to earths and the characteristic foxy smell are
all indications that earths are in
use. Fox tracks show as a triangular pad with four toes arched
tightly around it. Other signs may be
droppings or hairs on thorns or barbed wire on fences.
Fox droppings are pointed at the ends
can be any colour from brown to grey and contain some
indigestible matter such as hair, bone
fragments or beetle carapaces. A fox’s scent can remain
in the air for up to 48 hours.
The urban fox’s diet is mainly
scavenged food put out for them and other wildlife. A survey
showed they also eat small birds, a few wild animals,
windfall fruit, insects and earthworms.