Vulpes vulpes Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Red foxes and gray foxes are similar in size and weight (3 – 5 kg; 7 – 11 lb), but the red foxes’ coat is a mahogany red and it has a white-tipped tail.
Red foxes avoid the more heavily wooded areas occupied by gray foxes, preferring the edges of forests, meadows, agricultural fields and open pastures. They are excellent ‘mousers’ and catch rodents with a characteristic floating ‘mouse leap’, springing high in the air and pinning the unsuspecting mouse with their front feet.
Red foxes have a complicated history in the United States. They were introduced from Europe in the 1700’s but the species was also probably native to North America but limited to northern boreal regions.
Hunters introduced red foxes to Florida, but the species may have also arrived in the state by a natural range expansion from the north following the clearing of forest for agriculture and extirpation of wolves in the southern US. The continuing loss of forest cover and the increasing habitat fragmentation that is accompanying Florida’s rapid growth is likely to be beneficial to the red fox.
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