Our Wild Neighbors

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes

A fearful adventurer

Profile view of a naturalized red fox.

Description of the animal

  • Member of the Canidae family, the fox looks like a small dog and has the agility of a cat.
  • Elongated limbs, pointed ears and face, and fluffy tail.
  • Weight: between three and seven kilograms.
  • Length: approximately 1 metre.
  • Very soft, long, reddish-brown fur with the exception of its lower legs, which are black, and its lips, chest, stomach, the inside of its ears, and the tip of its tail, which are off-white. Its fur sometimes seems to be in poor condition, however, this is because the fox pulls out clumps of it to create a comfortable shelter for its young.
  • Elongated, curved canine teeth; strong carnassial teeth with shredding talons.
  • Paws have strong, non-retractable claws.

Habitat and needs

  • Present in all Canadian regions, with the exception of certain islands in the extreme North. Can be seen in peri-urban areas such as parks, golf courses, and cemeteries.
  • Sometimes digs its own burrow, but most often uses a hole abandoned by another animal. Here, the red fox raises its kits and hides when in danger. The female fox gives birth to a litter of four or five kits per year.
  • An opportunist omnivore. Prefers small mammals that it hunts in the first part of the night and early morning. The red fox’s diet varies with the seasons. It often buries captured prey in the ground or under leaves in anticipation of difficult periods.
  • Active throughout the year. Highly developed senses.
  • Travels as a couple from spring to autumn and alone the rest of the year.
  • The red fox uses its anal glands and urine to mark its territory. It rolls around in its excretions and then rubs itself on trees and rocks to leave its scent behind.

Relationship

  • The red fox has a reputation for being a chicken thief. In fact, if chickens are kept under shelter, a fox can be a precious ally on a farm since it eats small, troublesome mammals and insects that damage crops.
  • In stories, the fox is sly and deceitful. In reality, it is timid, discreet, and nervous, but very smart nonetheless.
  • It can carry rabies and transmit the disease to humans or unvaccinated pets.

Living with them

  • Never feed a red fox since it could easily grow accustomed to this and become insistent.
  • Beware on roads. The red fox is a much too frequent victim.
  • Keep all doors of chicken coops closed and protect farmyard flocks with an electric fence or a wire mesh fence (buried at the base). A watch dog is also quite effective when it comes to keeping the fox away, as long as it doesn’t eat your chickens itself....

Participating cities where this animal has been seen