Fox, a small, flesh-eating animal that belongs to the dog family. The female is called a vixen; the young are cubs, kits, or pups. The fox is a clever, alert animal that has played a part in countless fairy tales, stories, and proverbs. Its ability to offer pursuers a challenging chase has given rise to the sport of fox hunting. It is also hunted and trapped commercially for its valuable pelt, and is raised on fur farms. In many areas the fox sometimes destroys poultry; on the other hand, the fox is often useful, for it also helps keep in check rodents and other pests.
Foxes have lean bodies covered with long, thick fur. They range in length from less than two feet (60 cm) to more than three feet (90 cm), including the tail. The fox's bushy tail is from half to two-thirds as long as its head and body combined. The fox has a sharply pointed muzzle. Most species have large, erect, triangular ears. Foxes vary in color not only according to species, but also from individual to individual within the species. They may be reddish, yellow, light or dark brown, various shades of gray, white, or black.
A fox's eyes are adapted for seeing in the dark. Its pupils are elliptical in strong light, like those of a cat, rather than round like those of other members of the dog family. Foxes have keen senses of sight, smell, and hearing. Most foxes have a disagreeable odor, produced by scent glands at the base of the tail.
Foxes of various kinds are found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, including the Arctic regions. They are also found in many parts of Africa. Until foxes were imported into Australia to keep down the rabbit population, they were unknown there.
|Facts in brief about foxes|
|Names: Male, dog; female, vixen; young, pup or cub.|
|Gestation period: 49 to 79 days, depending on species.|
|Length of life: Up to 14 years.|
|Where found: Throughout the world except Antarctica, Southeast Asia, and some islands.|
|Scientific classification: Foxes belong to the family Canidae. The bat-eared fox is Otocyon megalotis. The gray fox is Urocyon cinereoargenteus. The kit fox is Vulpes velox. The red fox is Vulpes fulva. The maned wolf is Chrysocyon brachyurus. The raccoon dog is Nyctereutes procyonoides.|