Species: Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Favourite food: Kibble, meat, fruit and berries
How he got his name: We asked our community to choose and Finn received the most votes
Natural behaviours: He is great at chasing his brother Forrest
Favourite thing to do at the Earth Rangers Centre: Wrestling with his brother, Forrest
Here’s what Animal Trainer Laura has to say about Finn
Finn, along with his brother Forrest, is getting to know the team at Earth Rangers and being introduced to all kinds of different sounds, smells and sights. This is important training; it ensures he will be happy and comfortable in all types of settings, an important skill if you are going to be an Animal Ambassador. Once they are finished training, Finn and Forrest will meet people in schools and the community to inspire them to help protect animals and their homes
- Just like a cat, a fox’s tail helps to give them balance when they are running, jumping and pouncing.
- Not all red foxes are red; their coats can also be brown, black and silver
- Only breeding foxes sleep in dens, the rest of the time they sleep in the open or under a bush or tree with their tail wrapped around them for warmth
- Red foxes are solitary animals; unlike wolves, they do not form packs
- Red foxes have over 28 different kinds of vocalizations and individual foxes been described as having different voices
- They can hear prey, such as a mouse, underground from 150 yards away
- They can run at top speeds of about 48 km/h
Red foxes are small dog-like mammals that are known for being resourceful, cunning and very intelligent. They have a pointed face and a body built for being quick and agile. Their coat is long haired and grows in various shades of red as well as brown, black and silver. Adult foxes weigh between 3.6 and 5.8 kg and range in length from 90 to 112 cm. About one-third of a fox’s length is from their tail. Red foxes have excellent eyesight, sense of smell and hearing, which they use to help them hunt. Foxes are solitary animals, except during the breeding season, living in ranges that they define with scent markings. To communicate they use over 28 different types of vocalizations as well as face and body expressions. Their warning calls have been described as a sharp bark. Their beautiful bushy tail helps to give them balance, keep them warm in the winter, and is used as a signal to communicate to other foxes.
Red foxes live across Europe, Asia and North America. In Canada they are one of the most widespread mammals and can be found in all provinces and territories. They like many different types of habitat including forests, grasslands, mountains and deserts. Red foxes establish home ranges around their den sites that are 5 to 12 km in size. Young foxes will travel far in search of new territories; they have been traced as far as 250 km from their birth site. Pairs of red foxes separate during the winter but in late winter and early spring they come together for breeding. In one range an adult male fox will live with one or two adult females and any young they have had. Individual families have dens dug out from the ground, in caves, hollow logs, dense brush or under barns and structures. Dens from other animals, like rabbits, are often taken over and the same den is sometimes used by many generations of foxes.
Red foxes have a bad reputation as chicken thieves, but their threat to livestock is small in comparison to the many ways that they are helpful to farmers. By hunting insects, small rodents and rabbits, foxes help to protect farms from pests that can cause damage if their populations get too big. Foxes also play an important role in the ecosystem by eating and dispersing seeds from a variety of foods such as berries.
Red foxes are omnivores; they eat mall mammals (e.g., mice, squirrels and rabbits) as well as insects, fruit, carrion, bird eggs and even fish. Foxes are excellent hunters; they will use their sense of smell and sight as well as their incredible speed and agility to catch their prey. They can hear the sound of a small mammal digging underground from about 150 yards away. When hunting, foxes will lay motionless waiting to hear the animal, such as a mouse. Once they’ve pinpointed the location the fox will jump up into the air and come down right on top of their prey, pinning their soon to be dinner to the ground. Red foxes eat between 0.5 and 1 kg of food a day, they will sometimes collect more food than they can eat and will store the extras in cashes.
Red foxes are usually monogamous, which means they pick one partner to have pups with. Foxes breed between late December and mid-March, after which they will seek out a den. Between March and May the pups will be born in litter sizes of one to twelve. The pups are blind at birth, they open their eyes by the second week and are weaned off of their mother’s milk and onto other foods after one month. Both the mom and dad care for the pups and take turns hunting for the family. For two months the pups eat in the den, their parents will bring them prey so they can learn the smell of it and how to hunt. When the pups are able to feed themselves, usually by about five to seven months old, they will leave the den and head out on their own. From the fall until March the foxes will bed down in thickets and brush and if they are able to find a territory in the spring the young foxes may start a family of their own.
The biggest threat to foxes is humans, in the past their populations were put at risk by over hunting. Foxes were targeted by hunters for their fur and because they were viewed as pests. Today most people now realize that foxes are very helpful to have around, they control populations of rodents and insects and are incredibly beautiful to watch in the wild. Wolves, coyotes, bobcats and lynxes will also hunt foxes; pups are the most vulnerable to these wild predators. Today, red fox populations are stable and they have even expanded their ranges. These larger populations have brought them into closer contact with humans, which will potentially put them at a greater risk for conflict for scarce land and food. Through habitat conservation and public awareness about the important role foxes play in their ecosystem we can ensure that these amazing animals continue to have a home.