Wild Guide

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From Missouri Conservationist: December 2017

Red Fox | Vulpes vulpes




  • Length: 12½–46 inches,
  • Weight: 7½–15 pounds


Statewide, most common in the north and west

Doglike in appearance with their elongated muzzle, large pointed ears, long legs, and bushy tail, red foxes have a distinct red, thick, soft fur that distinguishes them from their canine cousins.

These rascally creatures like to hang around hen houses when they’re with their buddies. To deter them, reduce vegetation around poultry houses, provide an enclosed area for chickens, and employ an alert dog.

Life Cycle

Mating usually occurs in January and February, with litters of four to seven kits born in March or April. The kits emerge from the nest at about a month old, and at 10 weeks, they leave the den area for the first time to accompany their parents on hunting trips. Foxes are chiefly nocturnal but may come out during the day, especially at dawn and dusk.


Rabbits, rats, and mice form the bulk of a fox’s diet. 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 some of this is carrion.

Ecosystem Connections

Foxes feed on rodents and help keep these pests in check.

Did You Know?

Red foxes only use dens during the breeding season. Most of the year, red foxes sleep on the ground in a convenient, sheltered spot. They prefer the borders of forested areas and adjacent open lands, avoiding dense and extensive forests.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler