Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes
Canidae (dogs) in the order Carnivora

Doglike in appearance with an elongated, pointed muzzle, large pointed ears that are usually held erect and forward, moderately long legs, and a long, heavily furred, bushy tail that is circular in cross section. The fur is long, thick and soft. The pupil of the eye is vertically elliptical. Upperparts are reddish yellow, becoming slightly darker on the back. The tail is similar but mixed with black and tipped with white. The nose pad is black and backs of the ears blackish. Cheeks, throat and belly are whitish. The legs and feet are black.

Total length: 12½–46 inches; tail length: 11½–16 inches; weight: 7½–15 pounds.
Habitat and conservation: 
Red foxes prefer the borders of forested areas and adjacent open lands, avoiding dense and extensive forests. During most of the year, red foxes sleep on the ground in a convenient, sheltered spot. During the breeding season, though, they provide a den for the young. Where foxes are numerous, economic loss can be avoided by reducing the vegetation around poultry houses, providing an enclosed area for chickens, having an alert and aggressive dog and trapping the offending fox individuals.
Rabbits, rats and mice form the bulk of the diet of foxes. Additional items include other small mammalian species, wild birds, insects and only a small amount of plant material. To a certain extent, they do feed on small livestock and poultry, but the economic loss is not as great as it appears because doubtless some of this is carrion. When available, about a pound of meat is eaten at a feeding.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide, but most common north of the Missouri River and least abundant in the Mississippi Lowlands.
Common. In the last three decades, the population in Missouri has declined and remained at a low level. Because of increased demand for long-haired fur, there has been heavy trapping pressure on foxes, especially the red fox. The hunting and trapping seasons on these species are closely monitored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Life cycle: 
Mating may occur from late December to March, but January and February are the usual months. Litters generally are born in March or April. Most litters contain 4–7 kits. The kits begin to come out of the nest when they are about a month old, and at about 10 weeks, they leave the den area for the first time to accompany their parents on hunting trips. The family disperses in the fall. Foxes are chiefly nocturnal but may come out during day, especially at dawn and dusk.
Human connections: 
Foxes are trapped for their fur, which is used for trimming, scarves, coats and jackets. Fox hunting is considered great sport and raising foxhounds is part of that activity. Foxes are also called into gun range with a decoy call that imitates the voice of a frightened rabbit or a small rodent.
Ecosystem connections: 
Foxes feed on rodents and help check these abundant forms.
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