Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Brief background:
: males - up to 8 kg, females up to 4-6.5 kg.
Length: 60-85 cm (males are larger than females);the tail - approximately 40 cm
Sexual maturity age: ~ at the age of 10 months old
Mating period: February-March
Gestation period: 49-55 days
Number of offspring: 3-12 (usually 4-6), born in May-June
Lifespan: 10-12 years, average lifespan - 5-8 years
Natural predators: wolves, less commonly - lynx
Status of the species in Latvia: The most common predator species in Latvia. Distributed evenly throughout the entire territory of the country. According to the data of the Central Statistical Bureau for 2019, the population of foxes in Latvia reaches approximately 28,000 individuals.

Where do they live? Out of all 12 fox species worldwide, the red fox is the animal that is capable of surviving almost everywhere – forests, meadows, mountainous areas, desert-like areas, on glaciers and even in cities. Red fox can adapt to life in the most varied environments and areas.

How do they live? Foxes are sedentary species residing in monogamous couples, as well as in families (one male + two to five females, or a female together with other females - helpers that do not reproduce themselves) and separately alone. Each fox has their own territory, where they use several holes. If there are no free holes or holes to be taken from other animals, the fox has to dig them themselves. It is not uncommon to see an approximately two-metre long, roundish hillock, which has developed as a result of spring cleaning by the owner of the hole. Old bones and leftovers of food can be found next to the home of a fox.

Generally red foxes are mainly active at night and dusk, however, if they feel safe, hungry or just bored, they can be observed during the day as well. Foxes are known for their positive contribution in the control of small rodents, thus serving as hygienists of the forest.

What do they eat? Foxes use up to 300 animal species as food, predominantly rodents, birds nesting on the ground and their eggs, hares, poultry, various insects and other invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and plant-based food. It is not uncommon for them to go for roe deer fawns and unattended bowls of cat (and dog) food.

Did you know?

  • The red fox is the largest and best known of all fox species.
  • Red fox is the second most widespread terrestrial mammal in the world.
  • There are 45 subspecies of red fox.
  • Among all predator species, red fox has the largest geographical distribution area.
  • Foxes are able to adapt and survive in different environments and conditions.
  • Foxes have been introduced to Australia and the Falkland Islands.
  • Imports of foxes into New Zealand is prohibited by law.
  • The rich and long tail of foxes serves as a rudder and helps in keeping the balance, while running, swimming or suddenly changing direction.
  • The colour of red fox fur is not always explicitly red. It can vary in various shades of colour.
  • Foxes have excellent hearing – they can hear a squeaking mouse from a distance of 140 metres.
  • If required, foxes are good swimmers.
  • Foxes are highly susceptible to scabies and rabies - can serve as a vector for the spread of these diseases.
  • If required, foxes can run up low branches of the trees.
  • Foxes can jump over obstacles that are up to two metres high.
  • Foxes are able to produce a variety of sounds, including barking like dogs.
  • The menu of foxes is very wide, it consists of meat, plant food, berries, bird eggs, invertebrates and other things.
  • Foxes are popular game animals (for instance, for the purposes of furs, as well as control of parasites and diseases).
  • Foxes do not chew their food. It is divided into small chunks that are easy to swallow.
  • Foxes are alleged to be able to sense the magnetic field of the Earth.
  • Foxes can reach a speed of 50 km/h, while running.
  • The name of the popular dance foxtrot has originated from the characteristic “dance” of a red fox couple (a game, when both individuals stand on their hind legs).
  • Foxes have certain similarities with felids, for instance, partially retractile claws and vertical eye pupils.
  • A domesticated form of red fox has been developed in Russia.
  • Several cultures associate foxes with trickery, wisdom, quick thinking, adaptation capacity and agility.
  • In Latvian folklore, foxes are clever and cunning, but they also have the reputation of selfish pranksters.
  • In several languages, the origin of the name of fox species is associated with the large and furry tail of the animal.

There is one red fox at Līgatne Nature Trails.