• Mating: Monogamous
• Peak Breeding Activity: January-February
• Gestation: 51-53 days
• Young are Born: February-April
• Litter Size: 5 or 6 kits
• Young Leave Parents: In the fall, about 6-8 months after birth
• Number of Litters per Year: 1
• Migration Pattern: Year-round resident
• Typical Foods: Mice, rats, rabbits, groundhogs, and other small mammals; also birds, fruits, and some grasses.
• Native to Ohio: No; arrived following European settlement
The red fox is likely the one that comes to mind when you think of a fox. Although it can have several color variations, the red fox takes its name from its most common color phase: a rusty-red or reddish yellow coat from its face down its back and sides. Its undersides, throat area, and cheeks are white. The legs, feet, and outside of the ears are black; its long, bushy tail has black hairs mixed with the red and ends in a white tip. This feature can be used to help identify it; the gray fox’s tail has a black tip. The tail of the red fox is usually between 14 and 16 inches long.
Habitat and Habits
Red foxes are solitary creatures during the fall and early winter. Their range is one to two miles, but if food supplies dwindle within this area, the animals will extend their normal range to search for food. These foxes do not hibernate; under extreme winter weather conditions they will reduce activity levels and take shelter for a day or two.
Red foxes are nocturnal creatures, meaning that they are most active at night, feeding and moving from place to place. Nonetheless they are often found hunting during daylight hours.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Females that need to dig their own dens from scratch usually do so by selecting an area of loose, sandy soil with a southern exposure. Most fox dens are about four feet below ground.
While the female is below ground nursing her offspring, the male will bring her food. He continues in this role until the young are weaned and can go with their parents on hunting trips where they learn basic survival skills. By fall of the same year, the family unit breaks up; the young are mature enough to go on their own and their parents split and live independently until the start of the next breeding season.