any of various members of the dog family (Canidae) resembling small to medium-sized, bushy-tailed dogs with long fur, pointed ears, relatively short legs, and narrow snouts. In a more restricted sense, the name refers to about 10 species of true foxes (Vulpes), especially the red, or common, foxes, V. vulpes of the Old World and V. fulva (included with V. vulpes by some authorities) of the New World.
Red foxes are widely held symbols of animal cunning and are the subject of a considerable amount of folklore. The native Old World form ranges over virtually all of Europe, temperate Asia, and northern Africa; the New World red fox inhabits most of North America north of Mexico. Red foxes, with their coats of long guard hairs and soft, fine underfur, are typically a rich reddish brown with white-tipped tail and black ears and legs. Colour, however, is variable; the colour phases known as black and silver fox are found in North America, and the cross, or brant, fox is found in both North America and the Old World. Red foxes are generally about 90-105 centimetres (36-42 inches) long (about 35-40 cm of this being tail), stand about 40 cm at the shoulder, and weigh about 7 kilograms (15 pounds). Their preferred habitat is mixed farmlands and woodlots. Small mammals, chiefly mice and rabbits, as well as eggs, fruit, and birds (including some domestic fowl) comprise the diet; remains of larger animals usually indicate that the fox fed on carrion. Red foxes mate in winter; after a gestation period of about 51 days, the female (vixen) gives birth to 1-10 cubs (pups) in a den, which is commonly a burrow abandoned by another animal and enlarged by the parent foxes. The cubs remain in the den for about five weeks and are cared for by both parents throughout the summer.
Red foxes are hunted
by man, one of their few enemies, for sport and fur. Fox pelts, especially
those of silver foxes, are commonly produced commercially on fox farms.
Wild red foxes, although they are often destroyed for raiding hen houses,
are highly beneficial in controlling undesirable rodents.