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|Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)|
A fox is a small mammalian carnivore. They hunt and eat live prey, mostly rabbits and rodents (rats and mice). They may also eat grasshoppers, birds' eggs, and even fruit and berries. Sometimes they eat carrion.
Foxes are the smallest members of the dog family Canidae. There are 27 species of fox. They are swift and agile runners, and live in family groups. A female fox is called a vixen, and the male is called a dog. Foxes' plump bushy tail is easily seen, and is a food store for wintertime. A fox can use its tail for sending signals to its family members.
Foxes are found on all continents (except Antarctica), mostly living in forest, shrubland, and desert regions. They were not native to Australia, but were introduced in some way. In the United Kingdom, it was a common sport for people to hunt foxes with horses and dogs. This is now banned.
- "Most agricultural damage is caused by rabbits, and this can be considerable. Yet in lowland areas, rabbits comprise 45 to 70 per cent of the diet of foxes... One study estimated that, over its lifetime, each fox was worth between £150 and £900 in increased revenue to farmers... A strong argument against killing foxes".
The informal term 'true fox' refers to members of the Vulpes genus.
There are 11 species of Vulpus. They are:
- Bengal fox, Vulpes bengalensis
- Blanford's fox, Vulpes cana
- Cape fox, Vulpes chama
- Corsac fox, Vulpes corsac
- Fennec fox, Vulpes zerda
- Kit fox, Vulpes macrotis
- Pale fox, Vulpes pallida
- Rüppell's fox, Vulpes rueppellii
- Red fox, Vulpes vulpes (includes silver fox)
- Swift fox, Vulpes velox
- Tibetan sand fox, Vulpes ferrilata
Sometimes the arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) is included in this genus (as Vulpes lagopus). This is because of the way it looks. There is also genetic evidence that shows that the arctic fox is probably a true fox.
- These exceptions do not really make foxes omnivores, better to say they are not entirely carnivores.
- BBC Wildlife
- Wozencraft W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In Wilson D.E. & Reeder D.M. Mammal Species of the World 3rd ed, Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 532-628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Bininda-Emonds, ORP; JL Gittleman, A Purvis (1999). "Building large trees by combining phylogenetic information: a complete phylogeny of the extant Carnivora (Mammalia)" (PDF). Biol. Rev. 74 (2): 143–175. . . http://www.daimi.au.dk/~cmosses/thesis/articles/Bininda_Emonds_Carnivora.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-30.[dead link]