About Fox :
Foxes belong to the canid family, which falls under the order of carnivores, and under the order of mammals, which, in turn, falls under the phylum chordates, which belongs to the animal kingdom.
In terms of shape, Foxes resemble bushy-tailed dogs of small to medium size, and foxes are Continental animals, that is, their diet is very diverse, and they are also very sociable and flexible, so they can live in a wide range of habitats in North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
The genus of foxes or real Foxes (scientific name: Vulpes) is the most famous of the genera of foxes and includes 12 living species of foxes, as well as six extinct species identified only by fossils., It is worth noting that the male fox in Arabic is called a Fox and two foxes, while the female is known as a thaal and a Fox.
Types of Fox :
Foxes are divided into several genera and species, but the most famous of them is the genus of foxes, which includes 12 species of real Foxes, namely:
- For the Arctic fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes Lagopus), the Arctic fox or snow fox lives in the Arctic region of the northern hemisphere, and its fur color is white in winter, but in summer it becomes gray-brown.
- Red fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes vulpes), it is the most widespread type of carnivore, and the largest member of the genus of foxes, and is characterized by its ability to adapt quickly to its environment; it can live in a wide range of habitats, including Tundra, deserts, forests, and in city centers, and is also found throughout the northern hemisphere, it is worth noting that the fur of red foxes can be of different colors, not just red.
- Bengal Fox: it is scientifically known as (Vulpes bengalensis), and it lives only in the Indian subcontinent, so it is also called the Indian Fox, and it is widely spread from the foothills of the Himalayas to southern India, where it prefers to live in open grasslands, thorny or semi-dry shrubby forests, while the Bengal Fox is characterized by fur that differs in color between Orange and reddish-brown, the belly color is slightly pale compared to the upper parts of the body, and the tail is its tip black.
- Rubell’s Fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes rueppellii), it can be found in Sandy or rocky deserts, and in areas where low trees abound, in addition to the steppes that spread in parts of the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and North Africa, the Rubell’s Fox can be distinguished from other foxes thanks to the gray markings on the face, and the color of the outer fur is often Sandy Orange.
- Dwarf Fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes macrotis), it lives in areas with an altitude ranging between 396- 1890, which is found in the range extending from Central and northern Mexico to the southwestern United States, although the Kit Fox prefers to live in arid areas, but it can be found near populated areas and fields, as for the shape, the color and texture of the kit foxes ‘ fur changes depending on several factors, including the geographical area in which it lives, and the most common colors are yellow-orange, brown, yellowish gray, the color of the fur on the shoulders ranges down to the chest area from Orange to rust color, and for the kit fox, the kit has a tail with a black tip, and ears with a dark color on the back.
- The fast fox: Scientifically known as (Vulpes velox), the range of the rapid Fox spread previously extended from southern Canada to the Texas bad handle, from northwestern Montana to western Minnesota, in addition to the Meadows of North Dakota, but at the moment there is no indication of its presence in both Canada and North Dakota, and the rapid Fox prefers to live in meadows where short to medium-length grasses are common, and areas where Meadow dog colonies are common, and it can also be found in agricultural areas where animals graze, which are often sparsely populated, as for the shape the back of the swift fox is covered with brownish-orange fur It extends downwards to become pale brown in the abdominal area, while the tail has a black tip, and there are black spots on the snout.
- Tibetan Fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes ferrilata), it lives in dug dens, burrows under rocks, or in crevices between rock piles in the Tibetan plateau in India, China, the Sutlej valley in northwestern India, and parts of Nepal, specifically in the Mustang region, and prefers to live in Rocky or wooded high areas, plains that are no higher than 5,300 meters, it can also be found in barren slopes, streams, as in regarding the shape, the color of its fur ranges from Black to Brown and then yellow on the neck and back, a yellowish brown stripe extends over the dorsal region, and a white stripe on each of the tail, snout, and belly.
- Steppe Fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes corsac), it lives in the deserts and steppes of Central Asia, and there are also a few groups in the regions of northeastern Mongolia and China, as it avoids living in mountainous, densely forested areas, Real deserts, and snowfields, and is a medium-sized fox with yellowish to gray fur, pale-colored fur on the belly.
- Silver fox back: Scientifically known as (Vulpes chama), it is widespread in the central and western regions of South Africa, and as a result of changes in its environment and the expansion of agricultural land during recent decades, Foxes have begun to expand their presence to the southwest to the coasts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and these foxes prefer to live in open areas such as grasslands, and slightly wooded areas, as they go out at night to search for their food in cultivated fields, the silver-backed Fox is one of the smallest species of the canine family, the body of this species of foxes, as its name indicates, is characterized by gray fur silvery, the sides of the body and abdomen are yellow in color, and the tail ends with fur The color is black.
- The Afghan Fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes can), and generally lives in mountainous areas, and it was widely believed that it lives only in southwest Asia until its existence was discovered in 1981 in Palestine, and then in the arid mountainous regions of the Arabian Peninsula, and in Jordan, Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, the body of the Afghan Fox is covered with black, brown, or gray fur, and the fur may sometimes be spotted, while a black stripe extends from the backdown, and the sides the body is slightly lighter in color than the back, and the abdomen is Yellow in color.
- The pale Fox: Scientifically known as (Vulpes pallida), it is widespread in the semi-arid Sahel region of Africa, usually inhabits desert Sandy and rocky areas, semi-deserts, and its presence extends south to the humid Guinean Savannah, and it can also be found near populated places and cultivated fields, where it can easily get food, and despite its wide range, pale Foxes are a rare species, and there is not much information about their biological qualities, habitat, or threats, and the pale Fox, as its name implies, has pale sandy-colored fur, while the lower part of its body is white in color.
- The funk Fox: scientifically known as (Vulpes pallida), it is the smallest species of canine and lives in North Africa and Asia, and its range extends from Morocco to Egypt, northern Niger, Palestine, Kuwait, and usually lives in areas of sand dunes, but it can also live in areas with compacted soils, and the funk can is characterized by its huge ears, thick cream-colored coat, and black tail tip.
Places where the Fox lives :
Foxes usually live in family groups in their own areas, preferring forests, but they also live in mountains, grasslands, and deserts. Foxes are active at night and at dawn and dusk, where they spend most of their time in burrows or cold dens that they dig in the ground, which are tunnels containing multiple rooms that foxes use to sleep, store food, and raise puppies. Burrows usually contain many exits so that foxes can escape if the Burrow is attacked by predators.
The importance of the Fox :
Foxes have great importance in the ecosystems in which they live, they help to protect farms from pests because they feed on insects and prevent their numbers from increasing too much, they also help to spread the seeds of the plants they feed on in a variety of places, in addition to benefiting humans from fox fur, which is the best type of fur after American mink fur.
Characteristics of the Fox :
Body composition :
Some of the physical characteristics of foxes vary from species to species and from place to place, but Foxes of all kinds have distinctive characteristics in common, they resemble dogs in shape, have muscular bodies, short legs, slender bodies, flat skulls, pointed snout, in addition to strong jaws with sharp teeth for grasping prey, pointed and straight ears, perforated claws (broken edges) that enable Foxes to cling to the ground while chasing prey, and the Fox also has a bushy and long tail, the length of which forms it is approximately a third of the body length, which helps to balance Fox’s body, and the tip of the tail is often black in color.
Foxes are small mammals, ranging in weight from 680g to 11kg, and the body length of some species of foxes from the head to the loin may reach 86cm, while the tail length ranges from 30-56cm, but the body length of the smallest living species of foxes, the funk Fox (hippocampus) is only 23cm and weighs between 1-1.5 kg.
Sense of sight :
The Fox’s eyes have pupils with a vertical slit, so he is able to close the eye more tightly than the eyes with a round pupil, which helps him regulate the amount of light entering the eye accurately, as he can see clearly even with bright lighting, and also enables him to accurately determine the horizontal movement of Prey, which enables the Fox to hunt efficiently, in addition to all of the above Foxes are characterized as double-vision, which facilitates chasing their prey.
The eye of carnivores, including the Fox, contains a cellulosic choroidal rug that improves vision during the night and helps maintain the clarity and contrast of the image on the retina with some slight blurring, and for the same reason, the eyes of foxes when illuminated at night seem to glow, but the fact is that the choroidal rug of Fox’s eye reflects light towards the seer’s eye without the eye actually glowing.
The Finnish biologist Henrik Osterholm (Swedish: Henrik Österholm) published 1964 a scientific paper in the journal Acta Zoologica Fennica, as he concluded that the sense of sight is the basic sense that helps Foxes find food during the day, but it becomes less important at dusk and in the dark, as the Fox relies more on the sense of hearing, and in general, it seems that hearing is the most important sense for hunting, followed by sight and then smell, so it is not it is surprising to find a fox with cataracts, nevertheless, it can successfully hunt.
Sense of hearing :
Foxes use their sense of hearing in many aspects, the most important of which is hunting, and the sense of potential danger, and they also communicate with each other over short and long distances through sound, as foxes are able to move the pinna of each ear by 150 degrees independently of the other, the right Pinna rotates clockwise, and the left ear Pinna counterclockwise; which helps to capture sounds from both sides and from behind, and the distance separating the ears is large, which means that the sound will be captured from the ear near the sound source a very short time before the other ear, but the thanks to this nuance, the Fox is able to Determine the sound source.
Sense of smell and taste :
There is not much information about the possibilities of the sense of smell in foxes, but field observations show that foxes have an acute sense of smell, enabling them to detect the presence of a carcass buried deep underground or covered with deep snow, and they are also able to distinguish new scientists who have joined the team of scientists studying their behavior only by distinguishing their smell, and they also use smells to communicate among themselves, to distinguish individuals from each other, and to distinguish the boundaries of the territorial area of each group of foxes.
It is worth noting that foxes possess an important organ of chemical perception that is part of the olfactory system of both amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, called the Jacobson organ or the nasal micellar organ, which helps to capture odors, especially the smell of pheromone.
The sense of taste in foxes is an extension of the sense of smell, and it is believed that their sense of taste is less developed than that of humans, and Dr. Fred Tuckerman described the tongue of the red fox that its texture as similar to the texture of fine sandpaper, and it is 12 cm long, and 2 cm wide.
Sense of touch :
Foxes are able to feel the touch thanks to a specialized hair known as a mustache located on the snout and around the wrist joint of the front legs, and the hair up to 11 cm long is associated with special nerve cells that are very sensitive to touch, and the fur that covers the lining of Fox’s feet is sensitive to touch, which helps Foxes to move easily on thin fences, rocks, tree branches, and also helps both hair and fur to capture air movement that may reveal the presence of potential prey near it.
Fox behavior :
Adaptation of the Fox to the environment :
Foxes are generally characterized by a high ability to adapt to the environment in which they live, and to the nature of the food they eat, they have sharp pointed teeth that enable them to eat meat, and they can hide and hide thanks to the mixing of the colors of their fur with the colors of the surrounding environment.
The Arctic fox is adapted to live in the harsh Arctic climate thanks to its thick white fur similar to the color of the surrounding environment, which enables it to maintain a constant body temperature, in addition to its long, dense tail that it can wrap around its body at night for warmth, in addition to the fur that lines its paws, which protects it from slipping on snow and ice, and Fox’s short legs keep it close to the ground and avoid strong winds, while Fox’s round, plump body, eyes, ears, and nose reduce the surface area exposed for cold air, it keeps warm.
Foxes are able to adapt in areas with a hot climate in several ways, they spend the hot daylight hours inside their cold deep burrows, and they are active only at night when the air temperature drops, and they also resort to panting to get rid of excess heat when the temperature rises too much, but this method exposes them to water loss through evaporation, so they may resort to other mechanisms to cool their body, such as reducing the basal metabolic rate in their bodies, the seasonal change in the density of fur and body fat, and they are also able to maintain the water balance in their bodies for an indefinite period depending on the water that she gets it only from her food.
Foxes communicate among themselves in several ways, including:
- Body language: Foxes communicate by taking a certain body posture, and using many different facial expressions, for example, Foxes greet each other by wagging their tail and may show an aggressive body posture towards strange foxes that intrude on their territorial area, and fights between foxes often begin in the breeding season, and in the transition season as foxes move to new places to settle.
- Sounds: Foxes are silent animals most of the time, however, they communicate among themselves and with other animals using a set of different sounds such as barking, rumbling, whining, and howling, for example, the barking of puppies to call the mother, alarm calls, barking and shouting issued by the Fox to call other foxes, or to call members of the opposite sex in the mating season, although Foxes make these sounds throughout the year, the small number of plants during the winter helps the sound reach long distances so that humans can hear it.
- Smells: Foxes use smells to identify their own territorial areas, and one of these smells:
- The smell of urine and feces that foxes scatter in clear areas to be able to find each other easily.
- Smells of various glands that are located on the tail, face, foot pads, and anus; to accentuate the smell, Foxes rub their bodies with objects that surround them.
- The smell of saliva with which Foxes learn about objects located within their territorial zone, such as plants.
Fox food :
Foxes are Continental animals, that is, they feed on plants and meat, they are able to devour any type of food they can get, and the diet of foxes during spring, summer, and autumn depends on fruits, berries, and nuts, and in winter, due to the small number of available plants, Foxes begin to prey on other animals, including mammals, small birds, insects such as locusts, cockroaches, beetles, and when necessary, foxes can feed on carrion, or dig garbage in search of anything that can be eaten, while foxes that they live near the oceans on fish and crabs, and in general foxes are able to eat A large amount of food per day for her size, and she also buries what she needs in excess under the leaves and snow to return to it later.
Foxes hunt individually by quietly chasing prey, where the Fox constantly patrols in search of food within the boundaries of its area, and uses urine to determine the area in which it has finished searching because foxes hunt within large areas, where the area of one Fox varies between 1.6-8 km2, and the Fox also maintains many dens (in English: dens) and burrows (in English: burrows) scattered here and there to be used as shelter and to store food that overflows its need.
The life cycle of a Fox :
The life span of foxes living in the wild extends up to 8 years, but foxes living on the outskirts of urban areas are more likely to die from being run over by cars, so their average age does not exceed 18-24 months, and run-over accidents are the main cause of death of foxes, and after the death of a fox, another Fox can move and occupy its own territory.
Reproduction of the Fox :
The female fox usually gives birth in March or April after a gestation period of about 52 days, where she usually gives birth to four or five puppies in one belly, and the number may reach six puppies, and it was believed that all foxes are monogamous, that is, they spend their lives with one partner, because the male and female are seen together in the mating season, and the male provides the female and puppies with the food they need during the period after the birth of the puppies, but there are other studies showing that female and male foxes can mate with more than one partner, and with the advancement of Science scientists were able to examine the DNA of a group of puppies and adult foxes from several groups living in The English city of Bristol, it turns out that the mating behavior of foxes is rather complicated, as the dominant males in the group are able to mate with females from her group and from outside her group, while the lower-ranking males mate with females of other groups and cannot mate with the dominant female within the group to which she belongs, so we can only say that at least Bristol Foxes are not monogamous, and this does not mean that there are no monogamous Foxes.
Small fox :
A small fox or Al-hijras, as it is known in Arabic, is blind and deaf at birth, has a short nose and small, flexible ears, and needs to stay close to the mother during the first 2-3 weeks of its life to derive warmth from her, so the father provides the mother with food during this period, while the puppies remain inside the Burrow during the first month of their life and then begin to go out, and at this age, their fur acquires a dark brown color with a tinge of red on the face, the snout length increases, the ears also erect and their length increases, and after four to another six weeks the puppies acquire the features of adult foxes and their own fur color.
The mother breastfeeds the puppies for four weeks, then the gradual weaning phase begins until the puppies reach their sixth or seventh week of life, although some puppies may need a longer period, and during the gradual weaning period, the puppies begin to eat worms, insects, the meat of prey brought by their parents such as rabbits, birds, in addition to breast milk.
20% of foxes are exposed to death during the first weeks of their life, and the causes of death are due to the poor health of the puppies, or as a result of their inability to reach the mother and take enough milk due to the intense competition between the puppies, in addition to the death of some puppies as a result of wounds sustained during the fight with the stronger puppies, where the bodies of dead puppies become food for the rest of the puppies that managed to survive and grow.
The impact of the presence of the Fox in the regions :
The presence of foxes in urban areas leads to several inconveniences for humans, as they attack domestic animals such as cattle, rabbits, guinea pigs, poultry, and birds, in addition to local wild animals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles, especially the possum, and birds that get used to eating their food from human hands as they become less careful, which makes them an easy target for Foxes. to make matters worse, Foxes tend to kill more animals than they need for their food, which may lead to the extinction of some animal species, which negatively affects biodiversity.
It is rare for Foxes to attack humans, however, they may resort to biting humans, cats, or dogs if they feel trapped, in which case they can transmit diseases such as scabies to dogs, and they may also transmit tapeworm to humans, so the effects of foxes in urban areas should not be underestimated, and it is worth noting that you should avoid feeding them because this will encourage them to associate humans with food.
The dangers faced by the Fox :
Foxes are exposed to many dangers, they are susceptible to predation from many predators that vary depending on the place where they live, and these predators include wolves, bears, badgers, eagles, owls, and foxes are also vulnerable to hunting by humans reduce their attacks on livestock, or as a kind of sport, which has led to a decrease in Fox numbers in various regions of the world, the most important of which is Western Europe.
Many foxes are exposed to death during the first four weeks of their life as a result of the bullying of the stronger puppies, killing, and predation as mentioned earlier, and another of the main causes of the death of puppies is their exposure to predation from domestic dogs and badgers, or as a result of the death of the mother at an early stage of the puppies ‘ life, hypothermia, and other causes that lead to the death of foxes secondary poisoning, i.e. exposure of foxes to poisoning when eating a poisoned animal.