Red Fox

Red Fox encountered in the wood adjacent to Bepton Down
Red Fox encountered in the wood adjacent to Bepton Down

FoxRed fox on Bepton Down

The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is present throughout the Northern Hemisphere.  In the countryside in the United Kingdom it is a fairly shy animal not normally encountered during the day unless it is practically certain of not being disturbed!

Its long body is set on relatively short limbs.  It possesses a long, bushy brush (tail in fox speak).  They measure between 30-50 cm at the shoulder and will weigh up to 14kg.   They are capable of sustaining a trot for miles at a steady 6-13km per hour.  The maximum burst of speed is 50km/h.  They possess a dense winter coat which is mainly red in colour apart from the upper lips, chin, lower lips and chest which are white.

The reproductive cycle ensures the kits (four to six) are born in the spring after a gestation period of 49 to 58 days.   The young are born blind, deaf and toothless in a den.  As they are unable to regulate their own temperature the vixen will stay with her kits for the first two to three weeks during which time the dog fox will bring her food.  They are able to see at about 15 days old.  They will suckle for about 6 weeks.

Although mainly carnivorous preying on small mammals such as rabbits, rodents, and even earth worms they are not averse to a diet which includes fruits, berries and other vegetable matter.

They form a fairly close society with older siblings helping to care for the new kits and older females without young of their own will also assist in the rearing of another vixen’s progeny.