HP wildlife: the red fox (vulpes vulpes)

This beautiful fox was photographed by Harrington Park resident Jenn Carr in her backyard in October 2009.

According to the NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife website, there are two species of foxes found in New Jersey: the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). Red foxes were introduced from Europe to the northeast in the late 1700s to augment the native fox population for hunting. Male foxes are called “dogs” and females are known as “vixens”. Foxes are well-deserving of their reputation for intelligence. They are highly adaptable, and can be found living in close proximity to people and in developed areas. The pointed ears, slender muzzle, and slanted eyes, bushy and unusually long tail, coupled with its small dog size and typical orange-red coloration, make the red fox instantly recognizable to most observers. The tail is typically up to 70% of head and body length. Red foxes in New Jersey breed in January and February; gestation takes about 52 days. The average size of a litter is five pups. The pups will leave the den by 4 or 5 weeks after birth and are weaned by 8 to 10 weeks. The family group remains together until the autumn after the birth when the young will disperse. A large, adult male red fox weighs ~ 12 to 13 pounds. Other than when raising young and during breeding season, the red fox is a solitary animal and does not form a pack like wolves. Home ranges normally will be between about 2 and 7.5 square miles. Family groups and/or individuals use a main earthen den. Red foxes most often hunt and move about during evening, nighttime and early morning hours. Being a nonspecific predator, the red fox utilizes a variety of food types and prey. It is also a very efficient scavenger, and garbage and carrion are can be important to the fox’s diet. Throughout much of the year, however, meadow voles are the major prey, making up about one half of the red fox’s diet. During late summer and autumn, fruits, berries, and insects may be eaten.

For more information about red foxes, please visit this web site, from which the above information was taken.  http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/speciesinfo_fox.htm




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