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Feature Creature - Fox

Credits: Elliott Smith

Everybody will recognise this feature creature - the beautiful FOX. These animals are one of the UK's most familiar mammals and the only member of the dog family still to be found in the wild here. They have a reputation for being sly, perhaps because these clever creatures have found ways to live beside people so successfully.
Emma Websdale spills the beans on this fascinating creature...


Clever creatures


Red foxes...you've got to take your hat off to them. They are extremely intelligent animals that have been able to survive across many different habitats, including farms, forest, mountains and even deserts! No wonder they're known for being cunning! And they're here in the UK too! 


Being able to thrive close to our cities and graveyards, the chances of catching a glimpse of this red mammal are actually pretty good! Isn't that exciting! 


Fantastic Mr Fox! 


Red foxes are extremely good hunters - trekking out alone, they find rodents, rabbits, birds, fish, frogs, fruit, vegetables and even worms! Living in close proximity to humans they'll even dare to dine on rubbish! They've often been photographed in a characteristic high pounce, in an attempt to catch their prey - one of the first techniques a cub learns as they begin to hunt.


A helpful tail


A fox really wouldn't be a fox without its tail. Like a cat, its bushy thick tail (also known as a brush) helps with balance and is used to keep warm in cold weather. And like a dog, a fox uses its tail to communicate with other foxes. For example, sticking their tail up straight is a way of telling other foxes that they are the boss.


A winter love-tale


Foxes like to find a partner during winter - when the sky is full of stars and the ground is icy and sparkly. Sounds romantic don't you think? Not so romantic when the fox makes a loud shrieking, screaming noise to attract the attention of other foxes!


The vixen (female) gives birth to a litter of between two to twelve pups. Here's a little secret...at birth, red foxes are not red! Their fur actually starts out as a brown/grey colour which changes to red when the cub is around one month old. Both parents work hard together caring for their young right through the following year. Sometimes the cub's auntie (who is more experienced than her young sister) will come and help raise her sister's litter. 


They'll spend most of this time in their underground den which is known as an 'earth', while some choose to live in a cosy hollow above ground. If they've done a good enough job, their young will begin venturing out into the world on their own during the summer - so keep your eyes peeled for them! 


Fantastic facts:

 

*Favourite foods: rabbits, rodents, people's left-overs     *Enemies: people, roads

 

*Where found: common across the UK and Europe and increasing in urban areas 

 

*Latin name: Vulpes vulpes. Females = vixens. Males = dogs. Young = cubs or kits.     

 

*Super power: pounce attack. They listen carefully for the tiny movements of rodents before leaping up and driving their snout through snow or long grass.


Credits: Pouncing fox/Clive Nichols / Fox cubs/Jon Hawkins Surrey Hill Photography