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Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes
#1
Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes

[Image: IMG_0352_108.JPG]

Geographic Range
Red foxes are native to the Nearctic, Palearctic, Oriental, and Ethiopian regions, and have been introduced to areas with the Australian region. Red foxes are found throughout Canada, Alaska, almost all of the contiguous United States, all of Europe and Britain, and almost all of Asia, including Japan. There are also several populations in North Africa. They are the most widely distributed wild carnivores in the world. Red foxes were introduced into Australia in the nineteenth century.

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Habitat
Red foxes utilize a wide range of habitats including forest, tundra, prairie, and farmland. They prefer habitats with a diversity of vegetation types and are increasingly encountered in suburban areas.

[Image: Red%20Fox%2042002.jpg]

Physical Description
Mass - 3 to 7 kg (6.6 to 15.4 lbs)
Length - 827 to 1097 mm (32.56 to 43.19 in)

Coloration of red foxes ranges from pale yellowish red to deep reddish brown on the upper parts and white, ashy or slaty on the underside. The lower part of the legs is usually black and the tail usually has a white or black tip. Two color variants commonly occur. The cross fox has reddish brown fur and has a black stripe down its back and another across its shoulders. The silver fox ranges from strong silver to nearly black and is the most prized by furriers. These variants are about 25% and 10% of the species, respectively. Red foxes, like many other canids, have tail glands. In Vulpes vulpes this gland is located 75 mm above the root of the tail on its upper surface and lies within the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The eyes of mature animals are yellow. The nose is dark brown or black. The dental formula is 3/3 1/1 4/4 2/3. The tooth row is more than half the length of the skull. The premolars are simple and pointed, with the exception of the carnasiallized upper fourth premolar. The molar structure emphasizes crushing. The manus has 5 claws and the pes 4 claws. The first digit, or dew claw, is rudimentary but clawed and does not contact the ground.

Breeding
Breeding interval - Red foxes breed once yearly. 
Breeding season - Breeding season varies from region to region but usually begins in December or January in the south, January to February in the central regions, and February to April in the north. 
Number of offspring - 1 to 13; avg. 5
Gestation period - 56 days (high); avg. 52 days
Time to weaning - 56 to 70 days
Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female) - 10 months (average)
Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male) - 10 months (average)

Red fox males and females, and sometimes their older offspring, cooperate to care for the pups. Young remain in the den for 4 to 5 weeks, where they are cared for and nursed by their mother. They are nursed for 56 to 70 days and are provided with solid food by their parents and older siblings. The young remain with their parents at least until the fall of the year they were born in and will sometimes remain longer, especially females.

Lifespan/Longevity
Longest known lifespan in captivity -12 years (high)
Expected lifespan in wild - 3 years (average)

Behavior
Territory Size - 5 to 12 km^2
Red foxes are solitary animals and do not form packs like wolves. During some parts of the year adjacent ranges may overlap somewhat, but parts may be regularly defended. In other words, Vulpes vulpes is at least partly territorial. Ranges are occupied by an adult male and one or two adult females with their associated young. Individuals and family groups have main earthen dens and often other emergency burrows in the home range. Dens of other animals, such as rabbits or marmots, are often taken over by foxes. Larger dens may be dug and used during the winter and during birth and rearing of the young. The same den is often used over a number of generations. Pathways throughout the home range connect the main den with other resting sites, favored hunting grounds and food storage areas. Red foxes are terrestrial and either nocturnal or crepuscular. Top speed is about 48 km/h and obstacles as high as 2 m can be lept. In the autumn following birth, the pups of the litter will disperse to their own territories. Dispersal can be to areas as nearby as 10 km and as far away as almost 400 km. Animals remain in the same home range.

Communication and Perception
Red foxes use a variety of vocalizations to communicate among themselves. They also have excellent senses of vision, smell, and touch.

[Image: redfox.jpg]

Food Habits
Red foxes are essentially omnivores. They mostly eat rodents, eastern cottontail rabbits, insects, and fruit. They will also eat carrion. Red foxes also store food and are very good at relocating these caches. Red foxes have a characteristic manner of hunting mice. The fox stands motionless, listening and watching intently for a mouse it has detected. It then leaps high and brings the forelimbs straight down forcibly to pin the mouse to the ground. They eat between 0.5 and 1 kg of food each day.

Predation
Most red foxes that are taken by natural predators are young pups. Pups are kept in and near a den and protected by their family to avoid this. Adult red foxes may also be attacked by coyotes, wolves, or other predators, but this is rarely in order to eat them. The most significant predators on red foxes are humans, who hunt foxes for their fur and kill them in large numbers as pests.
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#2
Red Dog Wrote:Below is a study from Scandinavia that shows numerous instances of red foxes preying on pine martens.

www.sekj.org/PDF/anzf32/anz32-123-130.pdf newwindow]www.sekj.org/PDF/anzf32/anz32-123-130.pdf

14 of 16 successful predation events were on adult pine martens (Page 5). Accounts are listed on pages 5-6.

They found that red fox predation was very high on pine martens and concluded such predation limits the size of pine marten populations.

Red fox size in Eurasia varies, but on average is about 6.3-6.7 KG for adult males and 5.3 KG - 5.5. KG for adult females.

www.canids.org/cap/CANID4.pdf newwindow]www.canids.org/cap/CANID4.pdf

(Page 13)

Adult pine martens weights appear to weigh between 0.8 KG -2.2 KG

www.auspiciousdragon.net/floraandfauna/wildlifepages/Resources/pinemartenfacts.pdf#search=%22pine%20marten%20weight%20sweden%22

Thus, it appears red foxes can kill pine martens pretty easily with a size advantage from 2.4 to 1 to 8.4 to 1. 

Pine Martens are born in late March-April:

"Postimplantation development lasts 30-35 days, and parturition occurs in late March through April."

animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Martes_martes.html 


When you look here, which is only two of the 14 adult pine martens killed, you'll see one was killed on February 9th and one on March 10th:

[Image: FoxPredationonPineMarten002.jpg]

That would mean the 1st was at a minimum 10-10.5 months old and the second 11-11.5 months old. Of course, just as easily they could be 4 years and 10-10.5 months old and 4 years and 11-11.5 months old since all of these animals are the same size and a researcher could not tell the difference! All of the other 12 predations on adult pine martens were during winter, which would put them at similar age possibilities.

6 of the 16 fox kills were confirmed as "fights" and not ambushes as shown here:

[Image: FoxPredationonPineMarten003.jpg]

Here are some descriptions from the researchers:

[Image: FoxPredationonPineMarten004.jpg]
 
[Image: FoxPredationonPineMarten005.jpg]

[Image: FoxPredationonPineMarten006.jpg]
 
[Image: FoxPredationonPineMarten007.jpg]

These results indicate IMHO that red foxes can predate  on pine martens. The reason for the heavy predation in this study was that the pine marten population was very high and foxes encountered them more. Why was the pine marten population so high? Because fox numbers dropped due to a mange outbreak, and with fox numbers recovering they were killing off their smaller and subordinate competitor.

Red Dog Wrote:
Quote:Interactions between Arctic and Red Foxes in Scandinavia - Predation and Aggression
"ABSTRACT. Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) populations in Scandinavia are small and restricted to alpine regions, while red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are common throughout both Norway and Sweden. The two species are similar in behaviour and diet, and thus competition between them is likely. This study provides seven observations of aggressive interactions between the two species. One adult arctic fox and one cub were killed by red foxes, one male arctic fox was chased away from his den, one female arctic fox and a cub fled into the den as a red fox approached, four cubs fled into the den as a red fox walked upon it and once a red fox walked upon the arctic fox den when no arctic foxes could be seen. Only on one occasion did an arctic fox succeed in chasing away a red fox. Red fox predation may prove to be limiting to the small arctic fox population in Scandinavia, and arctic foxes can be displaced from good dens and the most productive regions."
http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic42-4-354.pdf

Below is an account constant with the above study where a red fox kills an arctic fox. The red fox kills the arctic fox within 10 seconds of engaging it. IMHO, this shows that canids can kill other animals fairly quickly considering that the red fox has a weak bite relative to other canids. The red fox seems to make up for this by having decently long canines and a good killing technique.

http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic59-4-361.pdf

In November 2004, a red fox was observed chasing an
arctic fox under parked trucks and a nearby building
constructed on stilts. As the chase proceeded, the red fox
continued to gain on the arctic fox until contact was made,
at which point video shots were taken to document the
encounter. Six video clips totaling 2 minutes 36 seconds
were taken of the interaction.

The first video clip shows the two animals fighting. The
red fox was maintaining a superior position with respect to
the arctic fox, while trying to roll the arctic fox over in
repeated attempts to bite its neck. The arctic fox, struggling
underneath the red fox, was kicking and biting at it
(Fig. 1). At the 10-second mark of the video, the red fox
succeeded in biting the neck of the arctic fox and then
shook its head quickly from side to side, instantly killing
or paralyzing the arctic fox. The red fox proceeded to carry
the limp carcass across a parking lot and onto an adjacent
patch of undisturbed snow (Fig. 2). The last three video
clips show the red fox biting at the back of the arctic fox
just behind the shoulders, in what seemed to be attempts to
break open the skin (Fig. 3).


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Apparently this is not that uncommon:

We have had many conversations with oilfield personnel
during which they reported on similar encounters
between red and arctic foxes. Most encounters reported
involve red foxes chasing arctic foxes, but some report
arctic foxes being killed and consumed.
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#3
Excerpts from "Tracking Down Yellowstone’s Red Fox: Skis, Satellites, and Historical Sightings"
by Bob Fuhrmann
Yellowstone Science, Volume 10, Number 1 Winter 2002

Red Foxes in Yellowstone NP

Relatively little is known about the red fox population of Yellowstone National Park and its surrounding areas, yet a variety of historical and anecdotal records indicate that Yellowstone’s red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) have undergone several population fluctuations and exhibit an unusual variety of coat colors. Further, the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone is likely having an effect on fox distribution in and around the park, and fox sightings have increased in recent years.

[Image: redfox1.jpg]

The Influence of Wolves and Coyotes on Red Fox
Another area which requires more study is the question of how the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone is affecting the area’s foxes. For most of the 20th century, Yellowstone had only two canid predators foxes and coyotes (Canis latrans) In 1995, wolves (C. lupus) were reintroduced. This reintroduction will likely have major impacts on the other canids in the ecosystem. A review of 16 separate studies of sympatric coyote and red fox populations indicates that coyotes have a tremendous negative impact on fox populations (Crabtree and Sheldon, in press). In Yellowstone, track surveys and remote cameras demonstrated that 90 percent of known fox locations occurred on the periphery of or in between coyote territories in the northern range (Gehman Crabtree, and Consolo Murphy 1997).
Wolves are known to kill coyotes and may exclude them from core areas of pack ranges. Since 1995, many coyotes have been killed or displaced by the wolves. Due to decreased competition for space and food, foxes seemed to fill in behind the missing coyotes. In one area of the Lamar Valley where there were four contiguous coyote territories containing 25–30 coyotes prior to wolf reintroduction, there are now no coyote packs. In this same location, a high concentration of fox sightings have been reported compared to what was documented in the few years prior to 1995. This indicates that wolves can have an indirect effect on the occurrence and distribution of red fox. Future studies will be able to compare habitat use patterns with what I observed in this study to determine if red foxes’ habitat use also shifts.

Foxes in the Yellowstone area have adapted to survive in harsh winter conditions at high elevations. They exploit higher elevations more regularly than coyotes, which may be a spatial competition avoidance mechanism on the part of foxes (Gehman, Crabtree, and Consolo Murphy 1997; Crabtree and Sheldon, in press). In addition, foxes seem to be better adapted to hunting in deep snow than coyotes. Foxes have large feet in proportion to body size when compared to coyotes An adult coyote weighs about 13.5 kg (30 lbs.) in Yellowstone, which is three times as large as an adult fox (4.6 kg or 10.1 lbs.), but its track size is not three times as large. Foxes’ sizable feet and long track length act like snowshoes, allowing them to stay on top of the snow instead of sinking.

[Image: redfox.jpg]

Two subspecies or subpopulations of Red Fox in Yellowstone?
Morphologic divergence is another possible test of population isolation, depending on the amount of time the populations have been segregated and the extent to which phenotype characteristics are plastic. Although the morphometric data do not indicate that there is a statistically significant difference in fox size along the elevational gradient found within the study area, high elevation foxes living in harsher environments did tend to have larger bodies and smaller ears than low elevation foxes.
Another interesting variable was hindfoot length. The trend indicated that foxes at higher elevations may have larger hind feet than those at lower elevations. Foxes at higher elevations have to withstand significantly deeper, less dense snow, and longer periods of it. Therefore, the hind feet should be longer and larger to act like a snowshoe and reduce foot loading (lower kg/cm2). With the small sample size, this appears to be the case Most of the foxes I observed at high elevations had very small toe pads (~3 mm wide x ~10 mm long) and an abundance of fur covering all of the pads in their entirety, including the heel pad.
This could potentially keep the foxes’ paws from forming ice crystals while traveling in deep, less dense snow. In addition, abundant fur on the feet (as in lynx) decreases foot loading and increases the snowshoe effect. Such small pad size and large amounts of fur were never observed at low elevations.

Color Variations based on elevation
Adding to the intrigue of elevational distribution of fox in the northern Yellowstone region is the variation in their coat colors, such as was described by Kolence Analysis of park records suggests that foxes at lower elevations usually have red fur. In contrast, a large percentage of reports from higher elevations throughout the region, including the Beartooth Plateau, note a gray or cream (“frosty butt”) color phase (see Figure 3). This coat color has not been described previously in the wild. Also, a red fox hit by a vehicle between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction in 1998 was about 60 percent black, with intermixed red fur patches. When asked about this dark color, many current wildlife biologists in the park had never seen or heard of anything like it (though Superintendent Norris had mentioned this dark appearance in the 1880s). Other color anomalies exist, including red foxes without the diagnostic white tail tip, and a handful of a nearly white or “ghost” color phase.

[Image: YellowstoneRedFoxcolour.jpg]

Summary
From the differences in coat color, habitat use, and morphology, it appears that foxes at higher elevations (>2,100 m) are unique. This study was unable to determine the exact cause of this uniqueness, but did show that two subspecies of fox may occupy the northern Yellowstone ecosystem. This study also provided a pre-wolf baseline on habitat use patterns for low and high elevation foxes, but more research is needed.
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#4
Red Fox Hunting Mice in Yellowstone NP

[video=youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP15zlyra...r_embedded[/video]
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#5
[Image: GreatHornedOwlkilledbyRedFox.jpg]

http://images.library.wisc.edu/EcoNatRes/EFacs/PassPigeon/ppv37no04/reference/econatres.pp37n04.cpils.pdf 
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#6
"Lost" Fox Subspecies Found via Saliva Analysis 

[Image: sierra-nevada-red-fox-relocated_25725_600x450.jpg]
The Sierra Nevada red fox (file photo) has recently been rediscovered in central California.

Christine Dell'Amore
for National Geographic News
Published September 8, 2010

Long seen as regionally extinct, the Sierra Nevada red fox has been rediscovered in the mountains of central California, thanks to a remote camera, a bag of chicken, and saliva analysis.

The discovery gives conservationists hope that the fox—listed as threatened by California—may just outfox extinction overall, scientists say.

The Sierra Nevada red fox subspecies hadn't been seen in central California since the 1990s and was considered gone from the area. Only one other population of Sierra Nevada foxes are known, farther north in the Lassen Peak region (see map).

But U.S. Forest Service officials suspected photographs taken by a trail camera near the Sierra Nevada mountains' Sonora Pass (see map) in August had captured a Sierra Nevada red fox gnawing on a "bait bag" of chicken scraps.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, ran DNA tests on saliva samples from the bag, and sure enough, the spit confirmed the fox as a Sierra Nevada. Testing saliva is "not uncommon," said Ben Sacks, director of the Canid Diversity and Conservation Unit of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory.

"We thought they were gone," Sacks added. "We were wrong."

Knowing there are two holdout populations of the subspecies "multiplies our reasons for optimism," Sacks added.

It "tells us not only are they not extinct, but now we're hedged," he said. "If something were to happen to one of those [populations], we have another to draw from."

Sly Fox Little Studied

Since 2006, Sacks has been studying red foxes in California—often joining the hunt for the Sierra Nevada fox. Even when he's hiking, "if I find fox-size feces at the right elevation, I pick it up and do the analysis," he said.

His genetic research, for instance, has revealed that many of the red foxes in the western U.S. are actually descendants of native Alaska and eastern U.S. foxes that were introduced in the 20th century.

But still, very little is known about the elusive Sierra Nevada subspecies—so little, in fact, that no one knows its exact population or why it's declining, Sacks said.

Sacks suspects the animals have escaped human detection in part because biologists' surveys are done at lower elevations—Sierra Nevada red foxes generally keep to the hig mountains.

The new discovery "tells us we need to take them seriously," he said.

"We need some resources to study these guys and to find out how many are out there" and to "figure out how to protect them and ensure their persistence into the future."

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/09/100908-extinct-fox-species-saliva-analysis-science-environment/
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#7
Predation by foxes aided by Earth's magnetic field

January 14, 2011 by Lin Edwards 

[Image: Cdfgfdhboard-1.jpg]
Hypothetical principle of a "magnetic range-finder" in the red fox assuming radical-pair-based magnetoreception. 

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists in the Czech Republic and Germany studying the hunting behavior of red foxes have discovered the foxes are more successful if they jump on their prey towards the north. 

Professor Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, and colleagues in the Czech Republic, studied the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), which hunts small prey in long vegetation or under snow by slowly creeping forward and listening intently before jumping high and pouncing on the prey from above, a process known as mousing.

A total of 84 wild red foxes were observed in 65 locations in the Czech Republic by 23 wildlife biologists and hunters between April 2008 and September 2010. The observers used a compass to measure body orientation of the foxes as they prepared to make hunting jumps on 592 occasions in total, with the immediate success or failure of 200 of the jumps being clear. The observations were made in different seasons and habitats and different times of day.

The researchers found that the foxes tended to prepare for their jumps in long vegetation or snow with their body aligned in a roughly north-easterly direction (around 20° clockwise from magnetic north). In short vegetation, where the foxes were more likely to be able to see their prey, there was no bias towards any particular direction.

In long vegetation and snow 72.5 % of successful attacks were made when the fox’s head was facing towards the north (340°-40°) and attacks from other directions were mostly unsuccessful, except for a successful cluster 15% at due south. These results were found regardless of the time of year, time of day, cloud cover, wind direction, or age and gender of the fox. 

The researchers say their findings suggest the successful attacks were enhanced by magnetic alignment, and Burda said their favorite hypothesis is that the fox uses information on the Earth’s magnetic field as a range finder. Burda said the fox could sense the magnetic northerly direction as a patch of dark or light. In the northern hemisphere the magnetic field tilts downwards below the horizontal at an angle of 60-70°, so the fox edges forward in search of the point at which the angle of the sound from the prey meets the slope of the magnetic field. At that point the prey is a fixed jump distance away.

If the hypothesis is correct, the red fox would be the first animal ever shown to use magnetic fields as an aid to hunting, and the first to be shown to use it as an aid to estimating distance rather than direction. Many other animals are known to be able to detect magnetic fields, and in Burda’s earlier work in 2008, herds of cows and deer were shown to align in a north-south direction, except when grazing under high-voltage power lines, which produce strong magnetic fields.

The paper was published in Biology Letters and is available online.

More information: Directional preference may enhance hunting accuracy in foraging foxes, Jaroslav Èervený et al., Biology Letters, Published online before print January 12, 2011, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1145

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-predation-foxes-aided-earth-magnetic.html 
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#8
Red Dog Wrote:Foxes may attempt to lessen competition by killing cats (interference competition). Three radiocollared cats were killed by foxes and aggression was observed toward cats. Home ranges overlapped extensively, but avoidance was indicated from the simultaneous radiotracking of both predators, as greater separations and lower overlaps in home ranges and core areas were recorded between species than within species. In addition, video observations suggested avoidance of carcasses by cats in the presence of foxes. The hypothesis that foxes limit feral cats through interspecific competition was then tested using a fox removal experiment. Foxes were reduced at two of the four sites from October 1995 using �1080� baiting and spotlight shooting by the VBCRC Predator-Prey project. Resource use and abundance of cats were compared before and after fox removal and between treated and untreated sites. Although no increase in cat abundance followed the removal of foxes, significant behavioural changes by cats strongly suggested interspecific competition operating via exploitation and interference. Exploitation competition was supported by the increased consumption of carrion by cats at the treated sites after fox removal, while support for interference competition came from the increased use of grassland habitats at night after fox removal. The direction of the resource shifts to more prey-rich habitats indicated asymmetry in the relationship between the two predator species. Although the null hypothesis of no limitation of cats by foxes could not be rejected, as no increase in cat abundance was recorded after fox removal, interspecific competition was considered to be the most likely mechanism limiting feral cats at Burrendong.

http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/411

Red Dog Wrote:Fox kills poodle in North Amherst
By SCOTT MERZBACH
Staff Writer

AMHERST - A toy poodle killed in a North Amherst neighborhood Saturday morning was the first-known canine to perish in a confrontation with a fox in town this year.

Animal Welfare Officer Carol Hepburn said Monday that she responded to Grantwood Drive at 7:09 a.m. after residents called about a fox chasing the small dog in the yard. While the residents were successful in scaring the fox into the woods, it later returned and fatally injured the dog, Hepburn said.

Hepburn said she is advising people, no matter where they live in Amherst, to watch out for their small animals.

"There is a fox sighting on every street in Amherst," Hepburn said. "They are everywhere."

She said this is a particularly active time for foxes to be hunting because many are trying to feed their young, usually with rabbits, squirrels and rodents.

But periodically foxes will go after other animals. A cat at an Amherst home was killed by a fox earlier this month.

Marion Larson, chief of information and education for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said foxes become visible to residents during the summer in part because of the longer days, people spending more time in their yards and foxes seeking food.

"Throughout the summertime we get a lot of calls," Larson said. "This is somewhat of a spring and summertime phenomenon."

Larson offered two potential reasons for the attack. Most likely is that a den is located nearby and the fox was protecting its territory. A more remote possibility, Larson said, is that it was seeking food.

Hepburn said the wildlife population in Amherst is mushrooming and that she is responding to more calls about not only foxes, but also bears. She speculated the increase in the visibility of foxes could be attributed to a decline in coyotes, which prey on foxes, or the mild winter. On Monday morning Hepburn responded to three calls about foxes.

But Larson said there has always been a large presence of foxes. It is probable that more foxes live per square mile in developed areas than undeveloped parts of the state. Although this may be counter-intuitive, she said foxes appreciate what is offered them in areas with human populations, including more shelters, such as porches, barns and other structures, and reliable food sources.

To address foxes, Larson suggests people not leave trash outside overnight, place garbage in secure barrels, keep compost in containers that can be covered, take bird feeders down and close off crawl spaces. To be most effective, entire neighborhoods need to take up these initiatives, Larson said.

While most dogs will be able to take care of themselves if they encounter a fox, some of the smaller breeds may not, Hepburn said.

"Protect your animals from wildlife. Always be aware when your animals are outside," Hepburn said.

Larson said the state recommendation is all pets shouldn't be going outside unsupervised because of the dangers posed by wild animals, and human activity such as vehicles. "In general, an animal under control is going to be living a longer, healthier life," Larson said.

Even if a fox den is nearby a home, Larson said residents should continue using the backyard just as they normally would, even for families with children. Larson said foxes are unlikely to approach humans and are easily scared off by loud noise, bright light and water.


http://www.gazettenet.com/2012/06/26/fox...th-amherst
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#9
Arctic foxes suffer while reds thrive in northern Canada

4 January 2013 Last updated at 03:01 

[Image: _65038792_arctic_fox_1.jpg]

Arctic fox sightings in northern Canada are at an unprecedented low this winter, according to wildlife guides.

And, unusually, the number of red foxes has simultaneously surged in the area, on Hudson Bay.

The surprising pattern has prompted observers to question whether the elusive Arctic foxes are being driven out of their dens by invading red relatives.

"It stopped dead, turned and ran," says Tera Ryan, wildlife guide at polar expedition company Churchill Wild, describing the time she witnessed an Arctic fox's reaction to a red fox travelling away in the distance.

"In the Arctic you conserve energy... This was running for fear. He did not want to be seen by that red fox."

Famed for their bright white coats in winter, delicate Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) are not much larger than a domestic cat. Yet with their thick, insulating fur and increased blood circulation they are adapted to thrive in some of the world's most extreme conditions.

Previous studies have indicated that larger and more aggressive red foxes moving northward may outcompete their Arctic cousins for food and even kill the smaller species when the two collide on the same territory.

Arctic fox populations naturally fluctuate from year to year depending on the availability of their main food source, lemmings.

But the wildlife guides at Seal River lodge on Hudson Bay have reported the lowest number of Arctic fox sightings for years, despite what they say is a good year for lemmings.

The team have reported an average of two Arctic foxes spotted near their observation lodge in the same day, whereas "it would not be unusual to see a dozen or more per day in an average year," says Churchill Wild's Mike Reimer.

"Last year we had Arctic foxes everywhere you looked and no coloured foxes. And this year is completely different.

"This year it's coloured foxes... we've got red, silvers, crosses. And we've had the odd Arctic fox try to come in and the coloured [ones] are much more aggressive so they drive them off."

[Image: _65061658_red_fox_1.jpg]
Red foxes may struggle to cope in harsh winters

But biologist Dr Jim Roth from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada says that while it is "possible" a surge in red foxes this season could have a temporary impact on Arctic fox numbers, the dip is more likely to have been caused by another factor such as food resources, disease or parasites.

Dr Roth's annual observations of both Arctic and red fox dens around the Arctic town of Churchill show that the success of the two species is highly correlated.

"However, in 2011 Arctic fox den success was among the lowest ever recorded, while red fox den was among the highest," he says.

Dr Roth concluded that a different prey species such as snowshoe hare may have been abundant in red foxes' forest habitat but was not available to Arctic foxes hunting on the tundra terrain.

Despite this evidence, some experts believe that red foxes gradually moving further north are a major threat to Arctic foxes.

In Russia, reds have been observed taking over Arctic fox dens and scientists have occasionally found Arctic fox remains around some red fox dens.

"Being bigger, the red fox tends to exclude the Arctic fox from its habitat," explains Dr Dominique Berteaux from the University of Quebec, Rimouski (UQAR) in Canada.

"They occupy the same ecological niche and are in direct competition."

However, Dr Roth argues that in general, "changes in food availability and disease" are "more likely to have greater impacts" on Arctic fox numbers.

The change in red fox distribution, with the species pushing further northwards, has been associated with climate change in the Arctic.

Warmer conditions allow red foxes to travel further north as they are more likely to survive without the special adaptations of the Arctic species.

But Dr Berteaux, who has conducted a number of studies into Canada's Arctic foxes, believes we may actually be more directly accountable for the species' movement.

"Red foxes follow humans," he tells BBC Nature.

"In the last 60 years many villages have established in the Arctic and red fox benefit from the dump sites where they scavenge on human garbage."

Dr Bertaux simply summarises that the red foxes "have more food available now than in the past" but his fellow biologists continue to debate the issue.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/20892310 
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#10
Around the world in 400,000 years: Journey of the red fox

Date: October 7, 2014
Source: University of California - Davis
Summary:
For the first time, researchers have investigated ancestry across the red fox genome, including the Y chromosome, or paternal line. The data, compiled for over 1,000 individuals from all over the world, expose some surprises about the origins, journey and evolution of the red fox, the world's most widely distributed land carnivore.

[Image: 141007144510-large_zps290e7e8f.jpg]
Genetic analysis by UC Davis scientists suggests red foxes, like this Sacramento Valley red fox, originated in the Middle East before beginning its journey of colonization across the world.

Imagine attempting to trace your genetic history using only information from your mother's side. That's what scientists studying the evolution of the red fox had been doing for decades. Now, University of California, Davis, researchers have for the first time investigated ancestry across the red fox genome, including the Y chromosome, or paternal line. The data, compiled for over 1,000 individuals from all over the world, expose some surprises about the origins, journey and evolution of the red fox, the world's most widely distributed land carnivore.
"The genome and the information it contains about our ancestry and evolution is huge," said lead author Mark Statham, an assistant project scientist with the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. "If you're only looking at what your mother's mother's mother did, you're only getting a small portion of the story."
The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Ecology, represents the most globally comprehensive work yet on the red fox.
Conventional thinking based on maternal genetics suggested that red foxes of Eurasia and North America composed a single interconnected population across the Bering land bridge between Asia and Alaska. In contrast, this new research shows that the red foxes of North America and Eurasia have been almost entirely reproductively isolated from one another for roughly 400,000 years. During this time, the North American red fox evolved into a new species distinct from its Old World ancestors.
The previous view was distorted by the maternal picture because a single female line transferred from Asia to Alaska about 50,000 years ago.
The new genetic research further suggests that the first red foxes originated in the Middle East before beginning their journey of colonization across Eurasia to Siberia, across the Bering Strait and into North America, where they eventually founded the North American population.
"That small group that got across the Bering Strait went on to colonize a whole continent and are on their own evolutionary path," Statham said.
During the red foxes' journey over millennia, ice sheet formation and fluctuating temperatures and sea levels offered periods of isolation and reconnection, impacting their global distribution. Statham said understanding the evolutionary history of the red fox can provide insight into how other species may have responded to climate change and those same environmental shifts.
The research effort, headed by Statham and Ben Sacks, associate adjunct professor and director of the UC Davis Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit, involved a network of collaborators and contributors from around the world and relied heavily on specimens in natural history museums.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141007144510.htm




Journal Reference:
Mark J. Statham, James Murdoch, Jan Janecka, Keith B. Aubry, Ceiridwen J. Edwards, Carl D. Soulsbury, Oliver Berry, Zhenghuan Wang, David Harrison, Malcolm Pearch, Louise Tomsett, Judith Chupasko, Benjamin N. Sacks. Range-wide multilocus phylogeography of the red fox reveals ancient continental divergence, minimal genomic exchange and distinct demographic histories. Molecular Ecology, 2014; 23 (19): 4813 DOI: 10.1111/mec.12898

Abstract
Widely distributed taxa provide an opportunity to compare biogeographic responses to climatic fluctuations on multiple continents and to investigate speciation. We conducted the most geographically and genomically comprehensive study to date of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the world's most widely distributed wild terrestrial carnivore. Analyses of 697 bp of mitochondrial sequence in ~1000 individuals suggested an ancient Middle Eastern origin for all extant red foxes and a 400 kya (SD = 139 kya) origin of the primary North American (Nearctic) clade. Demographic analyses indicated a major expansion in Eurasia during the last glaciation (~50 kya), coinciding with a previously described secondary transfer of a single matriline (Holarctic) to North America. In contrast, North American matrilines (including the transferred portion of Holarctic clade) exhibited no signatures of expansion until the end of the Pleistocene (~12 kya). Analyses of 11 autosomal loci from a subset of foxes supported the colonization time frame suggested by mtDNA (and the fossil record) but, in contrast, reflected no detectable secondary transfer, resulting in the most fundamental genomic division of red foxes at the Bering Strait. Endemic continental Y-chromosome clades further supported this pattern. Thus, intercontinental genomic exchange was overall very limited, consistent with long-term reproductive isolation since the initial colonization of North America. Based on continental divergence times in other carnivoran species pairs, our findings support a model of peripatric speciation and are consistent with the previous classification of the North American red fox as a distinct species, V. fulva.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.12898/abstract;jsessionid=8BA035DB52DDCA703EB63DA98114ACBC.f01t04 
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#11
Rare Red Fox Reappears in Yosemite Park

by Becky Oskin, Senior Writer | January 29, 2015 01:06pm ET

[Image: redfox_zpsef6a942a.jpg]
A rare photo of a Sierra Nevada red fox, snapped by a remote camera trap in Yosemite National Park.

The elusive and rare Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted in Yosemite National Park for the first time in nearly a century, park officials said yesterday (Jan. 28).

Camera traps caught the sleek animal in a remote northern corner of the park on Dec. 13, 2014, and again on Jan. 4 of this year. The cameras were set up by wildlife biologists hoping to spot the red fox and the Pacific fisher, Yosemite National Park's rarest mammals. The ongoing study is funded by the Yosemite Conservancy.

There hasn't been a verified sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox inside Yosemite National Park since 1916, said Ben Sacks, director of the University of California, Davis Veterinary School's Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit. That year, two animals were killed in Yosemite's Big Meadows, northeast of El Portal, for the University of California, Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.

"It's likely that the Sierra Nevada red fox has been in the backcountry of Yosemite in the last century, but they are rare enough and secretive enough that they haven't been encountered by anyone who has been able to document them," Sacks told Live Science. 

Until recently, only a handful of Sierra Nevada red foxes were thought to still exist in the wild, in a remnant population near Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeastern California. The subspecies, which is genetically distinct from other red foxes, once ranged more widely, across the snowy high mountains from Oregon to California.

Fewer than 50 of the animals may still exist in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce this year whether the fox will be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

No one knows for certain why there are so few Sierra Nevada red foxes, said Cate Quinn, an ecology graduate student at UC Davis who is studying their decline. "There is a lot of speculation about the causes, but there is no evidence supporting one or the other right now," she told Live Science. The most popular theories include loss of prey, competition from coyotes, genetic inbreeding and loss of habitat, Quinn said. Biologists think the historical population was always relatively small.

In 2010, the U.S. Forest Service discovered another small group of foxes living near Sonora Pass, north of Yosemite National Park, Sacks said. Before that discovery, the last verified sighting near Yosemite was on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, near Tioga Pass, he said.

"We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada," Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park superintendent, said in a statement. 

Sacks records red fox sightings online, and hopes the Yosemite news will encourage park visitors to dig through their vacation photos for images of the mysterious mammal. "There could be backpackers who have personal photos from the 1980s or 1990s," Sacks said. "Someone who has them might not have realized they were important enough to share."

Here's what to look for:
  • The Sierra Nevada red fox is smaller than red foxes that live at lower elevations, with larger, hairier feet for padding through snow.

  • Sierra Nevada red fox fur ranges in color from very red to black, but the fur behind its ears is always black. Coyotes and other fox species don't have this black fur behind the ears, Sacks said.

  • Red foxes have black fur on their legs, and coyotes don't.

  • Red foxes have big, fluffy, white-tipped tails. Coyotes can also have white-tipped tails, but relative to body size, a coyote tail is smaller than a Sierra Nevada red fox tail. "On a fox, the tail is almost as long as the body," Sacks said. "If a coyote is standing straight up, its tail might barely touch the ground, but a fox tail would be buried in the ground."

http://www.livescience.com/49630-sierra-nevada-red-fox-yosemite.html 
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#12
Red Fox predation on Carpet Pythons (Australia)

Taipan Wrote:Recent studies have shown that the introduced Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) can be an important predator of the Inland Carpet Python, individuals of all sizes being taken – presumably because these snakes are slow-moving with no venomous defences, they are particularly vulnerable.  Also, because the Inland Carpet Python in some areas is heavily dependent upon rabbits as a major food source, it may be increasingly exposed to fox predation while foraging.  Eggs, hatchlings and incubating female Inland Carpet Pythons may also be prone to predation by the Feral Cat (Felis cattus), Tree Goanna (Varanus varius), and possibly the Feral Pig (Sus scrofus).
http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets...ssible.doc

Taipan Wrote:Abstract
In Victoria's contemporary rural environments, introduced predators may represent the principal
predatory threat to many large, non-venomous reptile species. We present circumstantial evidence
that introduced canids are predators of the Inland Carpet Python Morelia spilota metcalfei, using
data collected during a radio-telemetric study of the sub-species' ecology across northern Victoria.
Seven pythons (23% of those tracked) were killed by predators during the study, and evidence collected
during transmitter retrieval suggested that foxes or wild dogs were involved in six of these
cases (the seventh having been eaten by a goanna). Evidence includes the recovery of transmitters
from fox den sites, their partial burial in several cases (consistent with caching behaviour) and damage
to each transmitter consistent with chewing by a fox or dog (teeth marks in the silicon coating,
puncture of the metal housing). Given the abundance of canids (specifically foxes) within these
study sites, their ability to prey on carpet pythons, and evidence of their involvement with these predation
events, we conclude that canid predation was the primary cause of death for each of these six
snakes, and represents a potentially significant issue for carpet python conservation in Victoria.
Suggestions for canid control programs and habitat management to minimise this threat to remaining
populations of this endangered snake are offered. (The P"ctorian Naturalist 123 (2) 2006. 68-74)



^ " either foxes or dogs killed the majority (86%) of radio-tracked carpet pythons lost to predators. "

I think that indicates that foxes are adept at killing pythons. As do other studies.

Other study mentioned in the above:

"Shine and Fitzgerald (1996) documented
seven instances of fox predation among a
group of ten Coastal Carpet Pythons M. s.
mcdowelli that died whilst being radiotracked
in north-eastem New South Wales
(70% of mortality records, 37% of all
snakes radio-tracked). Each of the seven
retrieved transmitters displayed bite-marks
characteristic of a canid, and the authors
concluded that foxes were involved in each
case."


Another:

"Dietary studies have also identified
carpet python remains in canid scats.
Canid dietary analysis conducted at the Mt
Meg study area identified python vertebrae
in one of the scats examined (Heard 2001),
and similar research has documented the
occurrence of python remains in canid
scats collected in south-eastem New South
Wales (those of the Diamond Python M. s.
spilota; Lunney et al. 1990). "
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#13
Red Dog Wrote:From Reddhole:

Quote:Interactions between Arctic and Red Foxes in Scandinavia - Predation and Aggression
"ABSTRACT. Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) populations in Scandinavia are small and restricted to alpine regions, while red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are common throughout both Norway and Sweden. The two species are similar in behaviour and diet, and thus competition between them is likely. This study provides seven observations of aggressive interactions between the two species. One adult arctic fox and one cub were killed by red foxes, one male arctic fox was chased away from his den, one female arctic fox and a cub fled into the den as a red fox approached, four cubs fled into the den as a red fox walked upon it and once a red fox walked upon the arctic fox den when no arctic foxes could be seen. Only on one occasion did an arctic fox succeed in chasing away a red fox. Red fox predation may prove to be limiting to the small arctic fox population in Scandinavia, and arctic foxes can be displaced from good dens and the most productive regions."
http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic42-4-354.pdf

Below is an account constant with the above study where a red fox kills an arctic fox. The red fox kills the arctic fox within 10 seconds of engaging it. IMHO, this shows that canids can kill other animals fairly quickly considering that the red fox has a weak bite relative to other canids. The red fox seems to make up for this by having decently long canines and a good killing technique.

http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic59-4-361.pdf

In November 2004, a red fox was observed chasing an
arctic fox under parked trucks and a nearby building
constructed on stilts. As the chase proceeded, the red fox
continued to gain on the arctic fox until contact was made,
at which point video shots were taken to document the
encounter. Six video clips totaling 2 minutes 36 seconds
were taken of the interaction.

The first video clip shows the two animals fighting. The
red fox was maintaining a superior position with respect to
the arctic fox, while trying to roll the arctic fox over in
repeated attempts to bite its neck. The arctic fox, struggling
underneath the red fox, was kicking and biting at it
(Fig. 1). At the 10-second mark of the video, the red fox
succeeded in biting the neck of the arctic fox and then
shook its head quickly from side to side, instantly killing
or paralyzing the arctic fox. The red fox proceeded to carry
the limp carcass across a parking lot and onto an adjacent
patch of undisturbed snow (Fig. 2). The last three video
clips show the red fox biting at the back of the arctic fox
just behind the shoulders, in what seemed to be attempts to
break open the skin (Fig. 3).


[Image: RedFoxKillingArcticFox001.jpg]

FIG. 1. Red and arctic fox fighting, with red fox maintaining a superior position.

[Image: RedFoxKillingArcticFox002.jpg]

FIG. 2. The red fox carrying the carcass of the arctic fox away from the kill site. Prudhoe Bay oilfield, Alaska, November 2004.

[Image: RedFoxKillingArcticFox003.jpg]

FIG. 3. The red fox biting and chewing at the back of the arctic fox, just posterior to the shoulders, after carrying the carcass off from the kill site.

Apparently this is not that uncommon:

We have had many conversations with oilfield personnel
during which they reported on similar encounters
between red and arctic foxes. Most encounters reported
involve red foxes chasing arctic foxes, but some report
arctic foxes being killed and consumed.

Catboy Wrote:
Sicilianu Wrote:Red fox>arctic fox>gray fox

More evidence of the first part:

[Image: _86098814_2383c19c-782a-47b7-ab7e-7f0c3703a226.jpg]
To the victor the spoils. An image of warring foxes has won the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
Taken by amateur Don Gutoski, the picture captures the moment a red fox hauls away the carcass of its Arctic cousin following a deadly attack in Canada's Wapusk National Park.
"It's the best picture I've ever taken in my life," Don told BBC News.
"It's the symmetry of the heads, the bodies and the tails - even the expression on the faces."
The two animals' ranges overlap at Wapusk, which hugs the shore of Hudson Bay in Manitoba.
And if the larger red catches sight of the Arctic resident, it will try to predate the northern species.
Wildlife guides in the park had spoken of seeing the conflict, but this is thought to be one of the first cases where it has been documented on camera.
Kathy Moran, who sat on the judging panel, said the horror of the scene was surprisingly understated.
"It doesn't come across as gory at all. If fact, when you first look at the picture - it's almost as if the red fox is taking off his winter coat."
Kathy, who is National Geographic magazine's senior editor for natural history projects, also described it as an image with a powerful message about climate change.
"As it gets warmer in the Arctic and sub-Arctic and the red fox can move further north into the territory occupied by the Arctic fox, you are going to get increasingly these kinds of tensions," she said.
Don Gutoski was named as Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) on Tuesday, at a ceremony at London's Natural History Museum. The NHM owns and organises the competition.
The judges sorted through 42,000 entries submitted from almost 100 countries.
"A Tale of Two Foxes", as the winning image is known, will now feature in an exhibition that will open at the museum on Friday before, at a later date, going on tour.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34520185
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#14
Foxes seen climbing trees at night to track down and eat koalas

[Image: rexfeatures_1306404c.jpg]
Baby koalas are easy to sneak up on
REX/Shutterstock

By Alice Klein
DAILY NEWS 10 February 2017

Beware the sly fox. For the first time, red foxes in Australia have been documented climbing trees to look for baby koalas and other unsuspecting creatures to munch on.

The European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was introduced to Australia in the mid-1800s for recreational hunting. It quickly developed a taste for ground-dwelling native species like bilbies, wallabies and numbats, leading to savage declines in their numbers.

Until now, tree-dwelling animals have been considered safe. But recent work led by Valentina Mella at the University of Sydney, Australia, suggests this might not be the case.

In mid-2016, Mella was studying koalas on a property in the Liverpool Plains, about 250 kilometres north-west of Sydney. As part of her research, she set up cameras to record the animals visiting drinking fountains in eucalyptus trees spaced several kilometres apart.





When she watched the footage, she was astonished to find multiple instances of red foxes scaling the trees. “I was quite shocked because I’m from Europe and I’ve never seen a fox in a tree before,” she says.

The owner of the property told Mella that he regularly sees red foxes in trees, sometimes as high as 4 metres off the ground.

Although the footage did not capture any instances of active predation, the foxes could be seen sniffing around and following the scent of other animals that had been in the trees. This was good evidence they were on the hunt, says Mella.

They did not touch the drinking fountains, suggesting they were not there because they were thirsty.

[Image: 01539267.jpg]
European foxes have devastated populations of native Australian species
Jiri Lochman / NaturePL

Euan Ritchie at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, says he has heard anecdotal evidence from other ecologists of red foxes climbing trees. It may be more common than we think, he says. “Red foxes are quite agile animals, so it makes sense,” he says.

Foxes are most likely targeting tree-dwelling species because they are easier to sneak up on than ground-based animals that have become accustomed to them, says Mella.

“It’s probably hard to catch rabbits, for example, because they are used to foxes and are programmed to escape,” she says. “But if a little feathertail glider or baby koala is just sitting there, that’s easy prey.”

Moreover, it is easier for foxes to climb trees in Australia than in Europe because eucalypts have lots of bumps that provide good footholds, says Mella. “They’re not like pine trees in Europe, which have very small branches,” she says. There are very few records of red foxes scaling trees in their native habitat, she says.

If future research confirms that red foxes are preying on tree-dwelling species, it will be a devastating blow, says Mella. “Foxes are curious, agile and opportunistic,” she says. “It’s a terrible combination for native Australian animals.”

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2120944-foxes-seen-climbing-trees-at-night-to-track-down-and-eat-koalas/




Journal reference: 
Valentina Mella, Clare McArthur, Robert Frend, Mathew Crowther (2017) Foxes in trees: a threat for Australian arboreal fauna Australian Mammalogy, DOI: 10.1071/AM16049

Abstract
We document the first evidence of tree climbing by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Australia. Camera traps recorded foxes in trees on the Liverpool Plains, NSW. This finding prompts a re-assessment of the impact that this invasive predator has on Australian fauna: from purely terrestrial to also potentially arboreal.

http://www.publish.csiro.au/AM/justaccepted/AM16049
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#15
Red Fox attacks on Macropods:







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