Tacony Creek Creatures: Red Foxes

Featured Photo Credit: Savannah McHale, “Red Fox,” 2019

This is the beginning of our series, “Tacony Creek Creatures” about the animals in Tacony Creek Park, written by our intern, Emmanuel! 

Written by Emmanuel Hampton, TTF Intern

Jay Coreano’s 2020 Red Fox “Love Our Park” Mural on the TCP Trail.

Red foxes are one of the many animals that are native to North America and can be found in Tacony Creek Park. They prefer habitats that are a mix of different kinds of shrubs and woodlands. Red foxes favor places near a wide plain or open field. This is because their prey is usually there too. Red foxes are Omnivorous, meaning they eat both animals and plants. Their diet mostly consists of small rodents and mammals but they are also capable of eating birds, amphibians, and a variety of fruits and berries.

Red foxes are related to dogs, coyotes, and wolves, being members of the dog family Canidae. These creatures are more closely related to wolves than domesticated dogs. This doesn’t mean they behave like wolves. Instead of being in a big group, red foxes hunt and usually live alone or with a family group only. They also possess some feline-like behaviors.

Red foxes are known for being cunning and smart because of their ability to find food in the winter. Red foxes are named because of the “reddish” fur they get by birth. This fur can come in different shades and is caused by the melanin in their skin and can be caused by cross-breeding. The most common way to know it’s a red fox is by its black legs, elongated muzzle, and iconic white-tipped tail. Their fur is actually used to camouflage but to humans, it’s easy to spot them.

Red foxes make dens under sideway trees and logs for them to sleep in and be protected from the weather. They also use their dens as a means of hiding from predators. When sleeping they are known to use their tails as a blanket of warmth. 

Each stage of growth has a name. Babies are called pups, kits, or cubs, females are called vixens, males are called dogs and a family is called a skulk.

Red foxes are predominantly nocturnal, meaning they are awake at night and sleep during the day. They do this because of the hot daytime weather and their fur coats overheating them. Roaming around and hunting in the cool night air allows them to not have that problem. Red foxes are not safe all the time though. They have to keep an eye out for their predators such as wolves, coyotes, large hawks, and owls. Snakes are known to eat their young ones so it’s important that the skulk sticks together. Bigger animals are known to kill mature red foxes like bears and mountain lions. Humans are significant predators of adult foxes, hunting them for their fur and killing them because they are considered pests.

In some cases, the people aren’t wrong about them being pests. Red foxes can cause major property damage while scavenging for food on farmers’ land. Red foxes are capable of mutualism, a relationship that’s beneficial for both sides. A deal of sorts. For example, a red fox will give scraps of food to a badger and the badger will keep the area around the fox’s den clean in return. Red foxes seem to not be going anywhere anytime soon since their numbers are still high and their predators are not becoming dominant. Maybe you can find these wonderful creatures out and in the wild!

Web Sources:

National Wildlife Federation, The Nature ConservancyMaine.govCT.gov

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