The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







The foxes comprise 23 species of omnivorous canids, found worldwide. Often fox refers to a member of the genus Vulpes, especially the red fox, Vulpes vulpes.

Young foxes are called kits. A group of foxes is a skulk. The word vulpine means "fox-like".


General characteristics

Foxes are alot smaller than other members of their family such as wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs. Infact, most foxes are about the size of a cat, and as a result, are the smalest members of the dog family. They have slender, slightly flattened skulls, pointed muzzles, powerful legs, large ears, and long, bushy tails.

Unlike many canids, foxes are not pack animals; they are solitary, opportunistic feeders that hunt live prey (especially rodents) by stealth, cunning and surprise. With great dexterity and a pouncing technique practiced from an early age, they are usually able to kill their prey instantly. Foxes also gather a wide variety of other foods ranging from grasshoppers to fruit and berries. In folklore, foxes have a predilection for grapes, though in reality they prefer meat such as rodents and chickens when it is available. Foxes have been successfully employed to control pests on fruit farms, leaving the fruit intact. [1]

Foxes hold individual territories and generally remain within them except for the mating season.


Foxes include members of the following genera:


In some countries foxes are a serious pest when imported. This is a recurring pattern in colonization. Plants and animals, though perfectly suited to their environmental niche in their home country, may become a serious pest when introduced in another part of the world. On the other hand, some fox species are endangered.

In Australia, for example, feral red foxes are probably the single most harmful invasive animal, being responsible for more extinctions than even cats and rabbits. Deliberately introduced as a quarry for the sport of fox hunting, they are now seen as a pest by farmers because of the toll they take on young lambs, goats, and poultry, and are hunted by professional and amateur shooters, particularly by spotlighting.

The first example of the introduction of the fox into a new habitat by humans seems to be Neolithic Cyprus. Stone carvings representing foxes have been found in the early settlement of Göbekli Tepe in eastern Turkey.

Urban foxes

Unlike many wild animals, foxes have also managed to integrate well into cities. More information on urban foxes can be found here.

Cultural connotations

In many cultures, the fox is a familiar animal of folklore, a symbol for cunning (see trickster). Some well-known stories involving foxes are found in Aesop's fables and the medieval story of Reynard the Fox.

In Japanese folklore, the kitsune is a powerful animal spirit (mononoke) that is highly mischievous and cunning.

The species is also a popular animal for furry characters.

External links

Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:30:11
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