Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica. Of the three native species of North American foxes—red, grey and kit—the red fox is the largest. A fox's coat color and texture may vary due to the change in seasons; fox pelts are richer and denser in the colder months and lighter in the warmer months. To get rid of the dense winter coat, foxes molt once a year around April; the process begins from the feet, up the legs, and then along the back. Coat color may also change as the individual ages. Typically, they live in small family groups, but some (Arctic foxes) are known to be solitary.
If allowed to, red foxes will peacefully co-exist in urban and suburban areas along side of humans. Foxes have dens used primarily for raising their young and avoiding severe winter weather. They may dig their own dens or inhabit an abandoned burrow of another animal such as a badger or woodchuck. They may also den in a “manmade” cavity—under a deck or porch, etc
They are omnivorous or opportunistic feeders with adaptable diets—natural sources such as small rodents, berries and fruit can be supplemented with bird seed dropped from feeders, pet food left outdoors and garbage containers. If humans leave them available after dark, they may also eat very small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, kittens and chickens.
One litter of “kits” are born in the spring, generally March or April. Litter size is usually four to five kits, but may be as many as eight. Kits are raised by both the mother and father. They are weaned around four weeks but stay close to the den. Should the mother be gone they will be fed by the father and other group members such as kits from the previous year that have not moved on. At nine weeks they begin to hunt with their parents. Late summer of early fall the members of the current litter may disperse to set up their own territory, or stay with the family unit. Foxes do not hibernate.
Foxes are crepuscular and nocturnal, concentrating their activity to dawn, dusk, and nighttime. But, saying that, it is not inconceivable to see a fox roaming about during daylight hours. “If, for example, the fox has been chased away or excluded from its daytime den, or if the competition for food is high or food resources limited, they may come out during daylight hours.” (Answering the Call of the Wild, Toronto Wildlife Centre) Curious by nature a fox may hang around a residential area. If confronted, a healthy fox will run away if approached.
Foxes are not aggressive and prefer to flee. In the event they are being handled allot during a rescue, they may bite.
Foxes are included in the rabies vector species (RVS)
E. multilocularis tapeworm - can affect humans if transferred from a contaminated source. If a pet has contact with fox scat and then petted by a person it can be transferred. Also can be contracted through contaminated produce: berries, herbs, greens, wild mushrooms and through surface water. The most effective precaution is to wash all fruits and also wash hands with soap and water after contact with outdoor pets. Hand sanitizers are not effective.
To deter a fox from denning on property, i.e., under deck, porch, etc. try using motion activated sprinklers, noise making device such as a radio played in the relevant area, or yell at or create noise by banging on a pot or metal trash can lid when a fox is seem on the property
If a fox has denned under deck, porch, etc. relate that they will move on and once the kits have left the area to secure the space so it cannot be re-used. BUT—make sure the den is abandoned.
How to deal with ... COYOTE AND FOX CALLS
1. Find out exactly why the caller is calling
- Don't assume that all callers are fearful or looking for ways to "deal with" a fox or coyote.
- People may call because they want their sighting to be recorded somewhere, or they want to share their excitement.
- To get a sense of what is going on, pay close attention to the caller's language and tone. Wait for the caller to ask a question or request information before volunteering a "solution."
2. Address the caller's need
- Sometimes, it's best to say, "That's great! It can be so exciting to see coyotes (or foxes) on Cape Cod. Thank you for sharing your news with us."
- Other times, it may be helpful to share natural history information with the caller. For example: - Coyotes are primarily nocturnal, but are sometimes seen during the day.
- There are times of year when coyote behavior is more conspicuous: in the early spring when they seek out mates and in late summer, when pups disperse.
- Coyotes have relatively large ranges that they travel each night, and so a
- Foxes and coyotes are canids and are close relatives of domestic dogs. Both can be bold but are rarely a threat.
- Some fearful callers may simply need reassurance that it's "normal" to see wildlife in their yards, and that they do not "have to" do anything.
- Other fearful callers may want advice about protecting their cats (best solution: keep them indoors), or protecting small children from what they perceive as a threat. For more information, reference coyote and fox information in editions of Wild Neighbors.
- Don't feed pets or other animals on the ground outdoors.
- Covering and securing trash and compost piles will discourage coyote and fox visitors.