Red Fox

(Vulpes vulpes)




Facts about this animal

The red fox is a smaller canid with an elongated, slender body and relatively short legs. Head-body length ranges from 60-80 cm, height at shoulder from 35-40 cm and the tail from 35-45 cm. Males weigh about 5.5-7.5 kg, females are on an average about 10 % lighter. There is some variation in size depending of geographical location. Foxes in northern countries and in mountain ranges tend to be larger and heavier than foxes from warmer climatic zones.


Also the colour of the fur varies considerably and could be rusty, orange-red, reddish-brown, grey-brown or dark grey. Silver and platinum foxes are mutants which occasionally occur in the wild and have been systematically bred in fur farms. The tip of the tail is usually white, the inner side of the ears, throat and breast are mostly light grey or yellowish, the rear side of the ears, and the lower limbs are black. Occasionally also the belly may be black (in German called Kohlfuchs or Brandfuchs), and there could be a black cross on the shoulder ("cross fox"). The winter coat is very dense containing a lot of underwool. The summer coat is rather flat and lighter in colour.


The muzzle of the red fox is elongated. There are 42 teeth. The ears are triangular, upright and relatively large. The forelimbs have 5, the hind limbs 4 toes with blunt claws. On the upper side of the tail is the so-valled violet gland located, which is used for scent marking and contributes to the strong odor of the red fox.


Red foxes are predominantly nocturnal. During the day, they rest in grain fields, hedges, subterraneous dens they may share with badgers, drainige tubes etc. They may live solitary or in family groups, which may comprise several adults. The home range of an individual may vary from 0.2 km² in British cities and suburbs to 16 km² in the Canadian tundra.


Mating season in Central Europe last from December to February. After a gestation period of 51-53 days, the female gives birth to usually 4-7 cubs with a birth weight of 80-120 g. The young are usually born in a subterraneous den. The youngsters open their eyes at about 2 weeks, begin eating solid food at 3-4 weeks, are successively weaned as from the 5th week, start independently searching for food at 3-4 months, and usually disperse at 9-12 months.


The daily amount of food required by an adult fox is in the order of 300-600 g. The red fox is an opportunistic hunter, predating e.g. on hares, rodents, mice, voles, occasionally marmots or ground suirrels, birds, including pheasants, partridges, waterfowl and domestic fowl, reptiles, amphibians, earth worms and insects and scavenger. It also takes birds' eggs and fruit.

Did you know?
That Red foxes are now the most widely distributed carnivores in the world and that they probably attain their highest densities in human-dominated habitats?


Name (Scientific) Vulpes vulpes
Name (English) Red Fox
Name (French) Renard roux
Name (German) Rotfuchs
Name (Spanish) Zorro rojo
Local names Croatian: Crvena lisica
Czech: Liška obecná
Danish: Rød ræv
Dutch: (Gewone, Rode) Vos
Estonian: Euroopa punarebane
Finnish: Kettu
Hungarian: Vörös róka
Italian: Volpe rossa
Norwegian: Rødrev
Polish: Lis rudy, lis pospolity
Portuguese: Raposa-vermelha
Romansh: Vulp
Slovenian: Navadna lisica
Swedish: Rödräv
CITES Status Appendix III (Subspecies griffithii, montana and pusilla only and in India)
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Rob Lee



Range The Red fox has the widest geographical range of any member of the order Carnivora. It is distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the Asiatic steppes. The Red fox was introduced to Australia in 1855 for hunting and has played a major role in the decline of a number of native species on this continent.
Habitat Red foxes are adaptable and opportunistic omnivores and are therefore found in many different habitats, including arctic tundra, desert, temperate forests, boreal forests, meadows, grasslands, agricultural and urban environments.
Wild population Over 20 millions. In Germany alone, 1.5 million foxes are hunted every year.
Zoo population 202 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Red Fox


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Malene Thyssen

Why do zoos keep this animal

In Europe, the red fox is of great cultural importance. Under the name Reynard the Fox (English, see Wikipedia English), Renard, Renart, Reinard (French, see Wikipedia français), Reinhard Fuchs, Reinecke Fuchs (German, see Wikipedia Deutsch), Reynke de Vos (Plattdütsch), Vos Reynaerde (Flemish, Dutch), Reinhardus (Latin), Reynardt, and many other spelling variations, it is known as an anthropomorphic figure from many medieval tales.


Many fairy tales deal with the red fox, e.g. the Grimm stories: The wedding of Mrs. Fox, The wolf and the fox, The gossip wolf and the fox, The fox and the cat, The fox and the horse, The fox and the geese, The fox and the man, The golden bird, The two brothers, The wonderful musician, The sea-hare, or The willow-wren and the bears.


There are also many proverbs quoting the red fox: "He who would deceive the fox must rise early" (France). "When the fox preaches, look to your geese" (Germany). "Let every fox take care of his own tail" (Italy). "Hunger will lead a fox out of the forest" (Poland).