What Does the Fox Say?

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posted on May 5, 2014
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It's a puzzle. While most animals on Old MacDonald's farm, or critters in the woods, have one vocalization, the fox has a repertoire of noises with which to communicate. Whether it's a "yip," "bark," "chatter," "howl" or "Joff-tchoff-tchoff-tchoff-tchoff!"  this small member of the dog family is known for its inquisitive nature and superior  intelligence. The fox has been used as a symbol for cunning in folklore. In Aesop's Fables, a fox that couldn't reach a bunch of grapes surmised that they wouldn't taste good-so they were not even worth having-is where our scornful use of the phrase "sour grapes" came from.

The red fox is the largest of the true foxes and has the widest distribution of any land mammal except humans. They can found be across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America and Asia. They prefer mixed habitat landscapes and eat a variety of foods including frogs, mice, voles, rabbits, eggs, fruit, birds, sunflower seeds, grain, and even carrion, garbage and pet food.

The name for a female fox is a "vixen," the male is "reynard," "dog fox" or "tod," a baby one is called a "kit," "cub" or "pup." Together in a group you would refer to them as a "skulk" or a "leash." Mating takes place in the wintertime, and an average of five young are born in a litter. The young remain in the den about five weeks, cared for by both parents. They stay in a family group through the summer, and the cubs become self-sufficient adults in the fall.

FAST FACTS:

  • The "common fox" has a red coat, but some foxes are black, white or yellowish brown.  There is a South American gray fox and an Arctic blue fox.
  • A family lives in a "den" (usually another animal's burrow that has been enlarged by the fox parents).
  • Adults are usually 36-42 inches long with a long, bushy tail and weigh about 10 to15 pounds.  Their ears are pointed and they have narrow snouts.
  • Fox hunting is an equestrian sport. Fox populations are often regulated near game and poultry producing areas; they are trapped for their pelts and also raised on farms for their fur.
  •  Annually, it is estimated that red foxes kill close to a million wild ducks on the prairie of North America.

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