April 19, 2014

Red Fox

Red Fox
(Vulpes vulpes)Now that snow is on the ground most everywhere in Maine it’s a good time to look for animal tracks of all types including that of the Red Fox . Tracks of the fox can often be found along the edges of fields and forest. A fox print is about 1.5 to 2 inches long with hair marks often visible between the toes. Foxes walk in a straight line (as opposed to dogs who tend to wander). The front paw is always next to the rear paw print.

Red foxes generally hunt at night by themselves covering as many as five miles in a single outing in search of food. They can often be found on the edge of fields hunting for mice, one of their favorite foods, but they will eat whatever they can find, dead or alive. Like a cat, they pounce on their prey. To aid them in their hunting they have a strong sense of hearing and smell. They can hear a mouse squeak up to 150 yards away.

Female foxes, or vixen, give birth to a litter of three to eight pups in an underground den. They are born blind and do not open their eyes for a few days to a week. The mother nurses the pups for the first few weeks after which time they eat meat the parents bring to the den. The pups can become food to eagles and bobcats and other meat eaters if mother is careless.

Full grown Red foxes are small, usually weighing less than 15 pounds. The fur is not actually red but more of a brown, silver or yellowish-red color. Look for them and their tracks this winter as you walk, snowshoe and ski through Maine.