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Vulpes Vulpes

Red Fox

Vulpes Vulpes, also known as the Red Fox (English), Tod (British-English), Zorro (Spanish), Renard (French), Der Fuchs (German), Kitsune (Japanese), Volpe (Italian) and Lisa (Russian), is a wildly distributed creature that lives in habitats ranging from North America in Canada and United States; Europe; northern Africa and the Middle East; Asia; Australia; and some Pacific Islands. They also live in a wide variety of biomes including, forests, prairies, farmlands, suburban areas, desert, chaparral, scrub forest, mountains and urban areas. Although the fox lives in Australia, it is not a native of the land.

The red fox was brought to Australia by Europeans in the mid-nineteenth century. Foxes need a large living space, which usually consists of one to five miles of large overall. They travel across those lands in search for food. If there is no food to be found in one area they use urine to mark it so when they come back to that area they can skip over it and not waste so much time. Foxes are very territorial and will fight other foxes for their area.

Most foxes living in the deciduous forest biome. They can be found in the eastern half of North America, southwest Asia, eastern China, southeastern

Australia and the middle of Europe. Foxes are in the kingdom Animalia. There is an average annual temperature of 50’° F and 30 to 60 inches of rain a year.

The red fox is a predator which feeds on the small mammals, amphibians, insects, and fruit found in the deciduous forests. They provide blood for blackflies and mosquitoes, and are host to numerous diseases. Like dogs, foxes can get rabies. In some places bait with rabies medicine is put out for foxes, but because of expenses most foxes do not receive this medicine. Foxes are shy and if they come up to you it normally means they are sick. The scraps, or carrion, left behind after a fox’s meal provide food for many small scavengers and decomposers.

All animals are classified in the kingdom Animalia. They are multicellular and are heterotrophic, which means they eat plants and other smaller animals to gain food. Unlike planets, animals have no cell wall. Foxes are made up of cells organized into tissues; each tissue specialized to some degree to perform specific functions. Tissues are organized into even more specialized organs. They are capable of complex and relatively rapid movement compared to plants and other organisms. Like the rest of their animal counterparts, they reproduce sexually, with two parents and the fertilization of an egg by sperm. The fertile egg becomes a zygote and continues into the following stages of life, like most animals.

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There are as many as forty-eight subspecies of the red fox, most of which include foxes that are colored black, silver and white. Commonly, a red fox has a white chest, neck and tip of its infamous bushy tail. It has black “socks” reaching high up its four legs and black tips of the ears. Unlike their dog-like cousins, the dogs, coyotes and wolves, foxes don’t usually bark, they howl or whine.

Foxes are monestrous; they have one time of the year for breeding. Mating for foxes usually occurs from December-January in the south, January-February in the central regions, and February-April in the north. In Australia, breeding occurs between June and October. Females may breed as early as ten months of age. Most males breed within their first year. Gestation usually occurs a little less than two months, ranging from forty-nine to fifty-five days. Liters vary from one to thirteen pups, but the average is five pups. Birth weight ranges from 50 to 150 grams. These small pups are blind at birth, but usually open their eyes at nine to fourteen days. Although pups at not usually weaned until eight to ten weeks and the mother and pup stay together until the autumn following birth, pups leave the den at four to five weeks after birth. Males usually leave the den first and go further distances than the females. Reproductive maturity is usually reached at ten months.

The reproductive system in the female consists of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and vagina. Across Mammalia, the size and shape of the uterus is highly varied, with the fox uterus having two uterine horns. In males, the system is comprised of the scrotum, testes, ductus deferens, epididymus, urethra, and penis. Both males and females have erectile tissue associated with the reproductive tract. Fertilization takes place when sperm released from the penis via the ejaculatory duct enters the vagina and travels up the reproductive tract, where it will penetrate an egg. The fertilized egg then implants in the uterus, where development will occur.

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A skulk for foxes, or a group of foxes, usually consists of only one male and one female or one male and many females. Pairs of foxes usually occur in North America while groups with more than one female occur primarily in suburban areas where there are usually more than three females. Females that are not breeding are usually helpers to the breeding females. Group denning is common where there are more than one breeding female.

The Vulpes Vulpes is considered a secondary consumer, because although it is no longer eaten by animals larger than it, it is still a small predator. Foxes usually eat primary consumers or primary producers. They usually live in grassland areas and hunt at night. It is not only wildly ranged in environment, but it’s wildly ranged in diet, which changes with the seasons. When insects and fruits are available, most popularly in the summer, foxes eat grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, berries, nuts and grains. In the wintertime, when the bugs and fruits are scarce, they eat small animals, including mice, rabbits, birds, turtles, eggs, and even road-kill. Foxes have very keen eye sight, smell and hearing, which work together to help them fight tiny animals in the grasslands.

The energy that foxes obtain comes directly from the primary consumers. In a 6,000 kilocalorie diet, the primary producers take out 10 of those 6,000 kilocalories. The primary consumers end up with only 600 kilocalories, and they too take out 10, which leaves the secondary consumers, including the fox, with only 60 kilocalories.

The fox’s digestive system differs greatly from that of herbivorous mammals. Relative to other mammals of comparable size, the fox has a large liver. This may aid in the digestion of the large amounts of fat taken in through its diet. Although the fox did possess a cecum, the small size relative to the cecums seen in other mammals that it does not play a large role in digestion. The fox has a much longer small intestine than large intestine, and a relatively short digestive tract overall. Because meat is relatively easily digested, an extensive intestinal tract is not necessary.

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The Red Fox is the most populous of the fox species. It is hunted for a sport, hit by cars, killed by farmers and bred for fur, but even as it is killed off, the species never dies out. Man is the fox’s only predator. It use to be that foxes were hunted down by bobcats, lynxes, panthers, and wolves, but those species are becoming less populous and not hunting for the foxes anymore. A stereotype of a fox is that it hides in a den when scared. It doesn’t normally. Foxes are fast runners and use their wit and speed to out run the animal, or in some cases humans, that are hunting it. Foxes are built to be long distance runners. They have tough pads on the bottoms of their paws and toe nails that stay out constantly that help them increase speed and run for long distances.

Foxes normally live to be less than four years old.

Like the cats of Egypt, foxes are revered in Japan. In or near their shrines there are nearly 20,000 statues. Oinari, or Inari, is the god(dess) of rice. This deity can be depicted as either a male or a female. Traditionally, Inari statues are occupied by a pair of foxes. In modern times, Inari has completely disappeared and now just stands her messenger, a magical shape shifting fox.

Works Cited
Author/Artist: BioKIDS – Kids’ Inquiry of Diverse Species
Page Title: Red Fox – Vulpes vulpes
Site Title: BioKIDS – Kids’ Inquiry of Diverse Species

Author/Artist: E. Dale Joyner Nature Preserve at Pelotes Island
Page Title: Red Fox – Vulpes vulpes
Site Title: E. Dale Joyner Nature Preserve at Pelotes Island

Author/Artist: New Hampshire Public Television
Page Title: Red Fox – Vulpes vulpes
Site Title: NatureWorks