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Vulpes Vulpes

dnaoodb: professional biology database , biology encyclopedia

in biology, Vulpes Vulpes (Alias:Red fox) Is a species of the genus Canidae. The red fox is a mammal of the carnivorous order Canidae, also known as grass fox and red fox. The body is slender; the snout is pointed, and the ears are large and pointed. The body color varies greatly depending on the season and region, ranging from yellow to brown to dark red, etc. The larvae are light grayish brown. Commonly seen are reddish-brown hair on the back, slightly light yellow on the shoulders and sides of the body; dark brown behind the ears, and the color of the upper half of the back of the ears is significantly different from the hair on the head, which is black; the abdomen is white, and the legs are slender and black; the tail is thick and Fluffy, with gray-white tail tip; black stripes on the outside of the limbs extending to the feet. The body is covered with rich villi and long guard hairs; the soles of the feet are covered with dense short hairs; there is a subcaudal gland at the base of the tail. Life span is 13-14 years, up to 15 years.

Red foxes are found across Eurasia and North America, and throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Distributed in Northeast, Northwest, North China and other places in China. Inhabits deserts, semi-deserts, tundra, forests, farmland and other environments. They generally live in abandoned holes, soil caves, and tree holes of other animals, and are nocturnal. Omnivorous, it mainly preys on small ground-dwelling mammals, but also plants and carrion. They come into estrus in December every year, mate in January-February of the following year, cubs are born in May-June, and reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years.

The species has a long history of association with humans, having been extensively hunted as a pest and furbearer for many centuries, as well as being represented in human folklore and mythology. Because of its widespread distribution and large population, the red fox is one of the most important furbearing animals harvested for the fur trade.: 229–230  Too small to pose a threat to humans, it has extensively benefited from the presence of human habitation, and has successfully colonised many suburban and urban areas. Domestication of the red fox is also underway in Russia, and has resulted in the domesticated silver fox.

Scientific classification

Vulpes Vulpes,Red Fox
Protection level:
Named by and Year:
Linnaeus, 1758
Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Mammalia
Vulpes Vulpes
Mode Of Reproduction:
Reproductive Form:
Sexual Reproduction


The word "fox" comes from Old English, which derived from Proto-Germanic *fuhsaz. Compare with West Frisian foks, Dutch vos, and German Fuchs. This, in turn, derives from Proto-Indo-European *puḱ- 'thick-haired; tail'. Compare to the Hindi pū̃ch 'tail', Tocharian B päkā 'tail; chowrie', and Lithuanian paustìs 'fur'. The bushy tail also forms the basis for the fox's Welsh name, llwynog, literally 'bushy', from llwyn 'bush'. Likewise, Portuguese: raposa from rabo 'tail', Lithuanian uodẽgis from uodegà 'tail', and Ojibwe waagosh from waa, which refers to the up and down "bounce" or flickering of an animal or its tail.[citation needed]

The scientific term vulpes derives from the Latin word for fox, and gives the adjectives vulpine and vulpecular.


Red fox is the largest and most common fox. The adult body length is about 70 cm, the length of the hind legs is 13.5-17.2 cm, and the base length of the skull is 13.4-16.9 cm. The body is slender. The snout is pointed and long, the nasal bones are slender, the front of the frontal bone is gentle, with a narrow groove in the middle, and the ears are large, high, pointed, and upright. The limbs are short and the tail is longer, slightly more than half the body length. The tail is thick, the fur is long and fluffy, the body is covered with long guard hairs, and the winter fur has a rich undervelvet. The upper half of the back of the ears is black, which is obviously different from the color of the hair on the head, and the tip of the tail is white. The soles of the feet are covered with dense short hairs; they have tail glands that can emit a peculiar odor, called "fox smell"; and they have 4 pairs of nipples.

The coat color varies greatly depending on the season and region. The coat produced in southern areas such as Guangxi is thin and short, while the coat produced in the north is long and dense. Generally, the color of the fur on the back is brownish-yellow or brownish-red, or brownish-white, with grayish-white tips, and there are many variations. The hairs produced in the arid areas of the north are rich in white tips, so the color is light. The upper part of the back of the ears and the outer sides of the limbs are all black and extend to the feet. There are dark brown hair areas on both sides of the snout. The fur on the throat, chest and abdomen is light in color, ranging from black gray to black white. There is an obvious chestnut brown band from between the ears from the top of the head to the center of the back, and there are white hair tips in the center of the back. The hind limbs are darker red. The upper part of the tail is reddish brown with fine black, yellow or gray spots, the tail tip is white, and the lower part of the tail is also brown and white. Juvenile coat color is light gray brown.

In addition, there are many variations of body color among Red foxes. For example, those with black fur are called black foxes or swarthy foxes; those with black undercoat but white tips that appear silvery under light are called Silver fox or black fox; the one whose body is auburn and has black cross-shaped fur on its shoulders is called cross fox. In addition, there are Japanese sword foxes, etc., but different color types do not represent different subspecies, and no matter what color type they are, The tips of the tails are all white. The areas with more silver foxes are the northeastern United States and Canada, followed by Northern Europe and northern Siberia. In different regions, the ratio of silver fox to red fox ranges from 1:20 to 1:5. This sudden change is closely related to the climate conditions such as humidity and light in the production area.


Red fox's habitats are very diverse, such as forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains, hills, plains, near villages, and even in the suburbs of cities. According to general records, red foxes live in earth caves, tree holes or abandoned holes of other animals. In the north, badger holes are used or expanded. Sometimes they even share the same den with badgers. They are mostly active on hillsides, often inhabiting large rock crevices or ravines. They only live in their dens during the breeding season. The red fox's den is a hole in the ground, with a hole diameter of about 25-30 cm, often 2-3 meters deep underground. Generally on sunny slopes, where the soil is looser and there are fewer stones, making it easier to dig holes. Red foxes may use badger holes, old holes or grave holes, or burrow under large rocks. Red foxes often live in a cave, including one female and several males, and each fox group has a certain territory for the Red fox. Generally, they stay up all day and come out at night. They crouch in caves during the day and lie down with their tails clasped.

Red fox likes to live in caves, tree holes or rock crevices, and sometimes occupies the nests of rabbits, badgers and other animals. In winter, water vapor emerges from the cave entrance, and there is obvious frost, as well as scattered footprints, urine and feces, etc. , there is new soil dug out around the entrance of the cave in summer, with obvious footprints on it, and a very strong smell of fox smell. However, the Red fox's residence is often not fixed, and except during the breeding and raising periods, it usually lives alone.

Living Habits


Red foxes have developed senses of hearing and smell, are cunning and agile in action. Likes to do activities alone. Hunts at night. They usually come out at night and sleep in caves during the day. Their long tails protect against moisture and keep warm. However, in remote places, they sometimes come out to look for food during the day. Although the red fox has short legs and feet, its claws are very sharp and it can run very fast. It can reach speeds of more than 50 kilometers per hour when chasing prey. It is also good at swimming and climbing trees. They mainly feed on meadow voles, mice, squirrels, rabbits, and mice. They also eat wild birds, frogs, fish, insects, etc., as well as various wild fruits and crops.

Red foxes are suspicious by nature and most of the time they take action, they first carefully observe the surrounding environment, hence the word "suspicious" in China. When encountering an enemy, Red Fox will use a secret weapon hidden in its body - anal glands, secreting a "body odor" that can almost suffocate other animals. The foul smell will force the pursuer to stop. In critical situations, Red fox can also escape by running into the flock of sheep or jumping into the river to hide. Red Fox, who was caught by a hunter, also has the ability to "play dead". He can temporarily breathe weakly and seem to be on his deathbed. He is at the mercy of others, but when others are unprepared, he suddenly and quickly escapes. These cunning behaviors are Red fox's superb means of survival.

Red fox has a cunning temperament, strong memory, well-developed sense of hearing and smell, and is agile and durable. Unlike other canines, which mostly obtain food by hunting, they can think of various ways to use strategies to obtain food. Capture prey. Red foxes often first look for traces of Red foxes in areas with lush vegetation and frequent activities of wild mice and hares based on smells, calls and footprints, etc. Then they approach the prey alertly and quietly, and even lie completely on the ground and crawl. To prevent the prey from being frightened and running away, go into caves or under rocks or trees, then crouch down, ready to wait for the opportunity, then step forward lightly, then speed up, and finally become Sprint, strike suddenly, and capture prey. Sometimes they pretend to be in pain or chase their tails to attract the attention of small animals such as burrowing rats. When they get close, they suddenly come forward to capture them.

feeding habits

Red fox is not only a predator, but also a random omnivore, and even a "killer". Various wild mice and hares, including voles, house mice, chinchillas, pocket gophers, chipmunks, etc., are the main food. They also eat frogs, fish, birds, bird eggs, insects, etc. They will not let go of food found in animal carcasses and garbage abandoned by humans. They also eat wild fruits or berries such as strawberries, acorns, and grapes. If the food cannot be eaten for a while, it will carefully choose a hidden place and bury it carefully. It will also go through some camouflage and eliminate all traces before leaving to avoid being discovered by other animals. Red fox likes to tease prey that can no longer escape while hunting, and often kills all the prey it can catch and never releases them. This is called "killing behavior". The cause may be instinct or some kind of influence. Caused by irritation, or a combination of both.

"Killing behavior" refers to a strange behavior of some ferocious carnivorous animals when hunting, that is, killing far more prey than they can eat at one time. Generally speaking, animals hunt to satisfy their own food needs. However, the "act of killing" clearly violates this law. More research has found that not only red foxes, but also many animals such as lions, polar bears, leopards, etc., have "killing behavior."


Red foxes come into estrus and mate from December to February every year. Those living in northern areas have to postpone breeding for 1-2 months. At this time, fierce battles for mates will occur between male animals. During courtship, male and female animals are attracted to each other through the musk-like smell emitted from their urine. The male animals who are lured by the female will make weird and terrifying screams and perform a complicated courtship method. Not only do male animals take part in raising their offspring, but they also start preparing caves before the female animals give birth, and go out to help forage for food.

The female's gestation period is about 2-3 months, and she gives birth in a hole in the earth or a tree hole between March and April. There are usually 5-6 cubs in each litter, and up to 13 cubs. When the cubs are born, the male The beast always stays next to the female. Newborn cubs have black and short fur, are weak and weigh about 60-90 grams. They do not open their eyes until 14-18 days after birth. During this period, the female animals carefully raise and take care of the red foxes, never After leaving, food is provided by male animals. The entire lactation period is about 45 days.

The cubs like to bask in the sun at the entrance of the cave, and they grow very quickly. Their weight reaches 1 kilogram at about one month old, and they can move out of the cave. The male beast is even busier at this time, not only for the female beast, but also for the fast-growing baby. The cubs provide food. If the female animal dies at this time, the male animal will have to take on the task of raising the offspring alone. The male fox is a very alert father. Red foxes often play with their cubs and take on the task of finding food and feeding their families alone. Three months after the baby fox is born, the father's nurturing task ends, and the young fox starts to look for food on its own. However, the father will not just watch the red foxes starve. The red foxes will hide food near the little foxes and teach the red foxes how to find food. Half a year later, the grown-up cubs leave the female and begin to live independently. They reach sexual maturity in 9-10 months and have a lifespan of about 12-14 years.

Current Status Of The Population

Red fox distribution density varies greatly. In the UK and Scotland, the density is 1 fox per 40 square kilometres, and into Wales it is 1 fox per 1.17 square kilometres. But in areas around cities where food is abundant, there can be as many as 30 foxes per square kilometer. In farmland, suburbs and barren mountains, the density of red fox families and social groups varies, generally ranging from 0.2 to 5 groups. The density in Swiss mountainous areas is 3 foxes per square kilometer. In boreal forests and arctic tundra, red foxes occur at densities of 1 per 10 square kilometers and 1 per square kilometer in southern Ontario, Canada. The average density in Swiss mountainous areas is 0.37 family groups per square kilometer.

The total number of red foxes in the UK is approximately 240,000 (1995), and in Germany 250,000 (1982-1983), rising to 600,000 in 2000-2001. However, due to the great economic value of fur, over-hunting by humans has resulted in a very small number in the wild, causing the number of resources to continue to decline.

The pre-breeding British fox population is estimated to be approximately 240,000 individuals (Harris et al. 1995). The average number of foxes killed per unit area by UK gamekeepers has increased steadily since the early 1960s, but it is unclear to what extent this reflects increases in fox numbers. Although fox population increases following successful rabies control through vaccination have been widely reported in Europe (e.g., the number of foxes in Germany increased from 250,000 in 1982-1983 to 600,000 in 2000-2001), no direct population density measures have been adopted.

Red foxes are widely distributed in Tibet, China, and their numbers were relatively high in the 1970s. With the sharp decline in cats, red fox skins have become more valuable. According to surveys, there is often trade in red fox skins in Tibet, resulting in a decrease in the number of red foxes. is decreasing sharply. It is a second-level key protected animal in the autonomous region.


The eyes of red foxes are suitable for night vision. In brightly lit places, the pupils will become as small as the nose of a needle. However, because there are special crystal points at the bottom of the eyeballs that are extremely reflective, they can combine weak light into a beam and reflect it out concentratedly. So it always shines brightly in the dark night.

Near ancient temples, ruins, tombs, and mounds in barren mountains and wilderness, if there are a few red foxes wandering back and forth at night, it will look like many small, flickering lights from a distance. It often confuses people, causes fear, or causes fantasies about elves and ghosts. Coupled with the inherent alertness and cunning habits of red foxes, all kinds of absurd legends are produced, and the red fox is also coated with a layer of mystery. The red fox is called "Fox Fairy" due to its unique color.

In the ancient Greek Aesop's fables, the Chinese classical novel "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio" and many fairy tales, fables, stories and movies, red foxes often turn into ghosts or kind, beautiful and smart girls, playing a major role. , and is known for being cunning, so people often use "as cunning as a fox" to describe cunning people.