Foxes can be found all over the world – probably even in your own backyard. Beyond their distinctive coats and playful natures, there are a lot of interesting facts about these furry creatures.
Foxes, although wild, have been domesticated successfully before and can even be purchased as pets. In the wild, foxes can be glimpsed having playful moments, like this fox caught playing with a golf ball. Young foxes have even been known to tear up gardens with their playful antics, which might lead some homeowners to deter these furry critters.
Foxes are closely related to dogs, but also share numerous similarities to cats such as their vertical pupils and the way they walk on their toes. Foxes are also nocturnal hunters, like cats, and have retractable claws that allow them to climb trees.
Foxes can run up to 45 miles per hour, which almost rivals the speed of blackbuck antelopes, one of the fastest land animals.
There are 37 species of fox, but only 12 belong to the “true fox” species. All foxes in the “true fox” species are in the genus Vulpes, and form a “clade,” otherwise known as a group that have likely evolved from a common ancestor. Three types of foxes in the “true fox” species are the red fox, gray fox, and arctic fox.
These creatures are widespread throughout much of the world.
Contrary to their name, red foxes do not always have red fur. Red foxes eat small animals, worms, birds, and fruits. Female foxes have litters of two to twelve pups and their female siblings usually help raise their young. If you encounter a red fox in the wild, a potential concern is that they are often carriers of rabies.
These foxes are widespread throughout most of the United States and Central America.
Gray foxes are one of the larger species of fox, and get their name from their gray, “salt and pepper” coloring. Unlike other foxes, gray foxes do not have a noticeable, bushy tail. Gray foxes are tree climbers and nocturnal hunters. Pups keep close to their mothers until seven months of age, but by ten months they have reached sexual maturity and begin litters of their own.
These foxes live in the Arctic, but can also be found in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, Scandinavia, and Iceland.
Arctic foxes are skilled at finding prey beneath the snow due to their excellent sense of hearing. They will leap and pounce athletically through the snow to catch their prey. Arctic foxes often stalk polar bears to get leftover scraps from the bear’s meal. An Arctic fox’s white coat changes colors to help it blend in with the environment. The fox’s coat can become gray or brown to help camouflage it when winter snow melts.
Concerns for Homeowners
Most of the time, foxes are not major pests. However, there are a few situations where you should consider deterring them from your home.
Minor problems caused by foxes near your home could include property damage or injury to smaller animals. Playful fox cubs can ruin a garden bed with their scampering and rough housing. Foxes may want to build a den in your yard, but if they do, their stay in the den doesn’t last for long, so this usually is a short-lived inconvenience that fixes itself.
It is important to note that foxes love smaller prey, so if you have chickens or rabbits in your yard, you will need to protect them from foxes.
Foxes have also been known to dig up graves of household pets that have been buried in yards. If you want to have a nice memorial for Fido, make sure the hole is very deep and that you put a stone over it to prevent a fox from digging up your beloved pet.
Besides using repellent, you can make sure trash, food remnants, and dog food are swiftly removed from your property. Secure any small animal hutches that might tempt hungry foxes to visit your garden. Installing fencing, making noise, and covering any holes that foxes can use for dens are also recommended methods for deterring these mischievous scamps. For more tips on how to deter wildlife from entering your garden, check out this article!
Despite any potential headaches they could cause to homeowners, foxes are beautiful and fascinating creatures. Do you have a favorite type of fox?