The red fox, scientific name, Vulpes vulpes is one of the winter mammals you may see this time of year. I see our neighborhood fox on Mondays, because that is trash collection day and she knows it. Our vixen can be distinguished from the other foxes around because she is tall. She has the longest legs on a fox I’ve ever seen. She has very little fear of humans. She spend many a day sitting about 20 feet away from me in the spring while I was in the garden and trots around the property like its hers. And basically it is her territory.
She, and her cohorts three grey foxes, scientific name, Urocyon cinereoargenteus, have been a boon to the neighborhood. They have cleaned the neighborhood of the abundant Norway Rat population we had a few years back and are keeping the Eastern cotton tail rabbit populations down too. Foxes are omnivores so they will eat anything, dead woodchucks, eggs, trash and fresh kills. Also they like to bury their food in shallow holes in the ground to save for later.
The differences between these two canid species are subtle, from far away the red fox has a red coat and looks like its wearing white socks. The grey fox is as its name implies, grey but sometimes it has rust colorings on its ears and the neck. Red foxes are slightly bigger and taller. The grey foxes have a stockier body and interestingly enough they can climb trees.
Up close the red fox has pupils like a cats, long and vertical, the grey fox has eyes like a dog, round pupils.
Its exciting to see one of these animals in the wild. Its also fun to track them by using their footprints, either in the snow or in the mud. Our red fox has a routine she follows, up the driveway early in the morning and down the path by the garbage cans around 9am. She also trots around the storage shed edges looking for mice and across my porch as a short cut to the front property where the eastern cottontails hang out.
This time of year is mating season for both the red fox and the grey fox. Baby foxes called kits are in our future!