Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for




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The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the most common of the foxes native to North America. Most depredation problems are associated with red foxes, although in some areas gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) can cause problems. The red fox is dog-like in appearance, with an elongated pointed muzzle and large pointed ears that are usually erect and forward. It has moderately long legs and long, thick, soft body fur with a heavily furred, bushy tail. Red foxes occur over most of North America, north and east from southern California, Arizona, and central Texas. The red fox is adaptable to most habitats within its range, but usually prefers open country with moderate cover. Some of the highest fox densities reported are in the north-central United States, where woodlands are interspersed with farmlands. Foxes are opportunists, feeding mostly on rabbits, mice, bird eggs, insects, and native fruits. Foxes usually kill animals smaller than a rabbit, although fawns, pigs, kids, lambs, and poultry are sometimes taken. The fox’s keen hearing, vision, and sense of smell aid in detecting prey. Foxes stalk even the smallest mice with skill and patience. The stalk usually ends with a sudden pounce onto the prey. Red foxes sometimes kill more than they can eat and bury food in caches for later use.