red fox (Vulpes vulpes fulva)
The red fox is the size of a small dog, with a total length of 39-41 inches and a weight of 9-12 pounds. It has prominent, erect ears, a pointed nose, and a long, bushy tail with white tip. The fur is long, soft, with the upper part reddish-yellow, black-tipped on the shoulders. The breeding season is from December to February, with a peak in late January. A litter of 4-7 pups is born in a den in late March or early April. The male may bring food to the den until the female can leave the pups a short time, then they both hunt. They remain with the pups until dispersal. . They are generally nocturnal and non-migratory, and usually use the same area for life. The fox is known as sly because it has many sophisticated tricks for losing predators like backtracking and running on fence poles to confuse or eliminate tracks. Longevity is about 5 years.
The red fox is found in all areas of Virginia except for the extreme southeast corner. It prefers diverse habitat, in less populated areas, like farmland.
Red foxes are omnivorous though most of their diet is made of rabbits and mice. They are also known to eat in smaller amounts, poultry, squirrels muskrats, quail, small nongame birds, insects, nuts and fruits. Poultry loss to this species is largely due to improper husbandry practices. It does not exert real pressure on game bird populations.