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Our Wiley Neighbor

The red fox lives by cunning, guile and cover of night

Vulpes volpes, the subject of fairy tales and folklore, are in real life blamed for raiding chicken coops, killing pets and keeping people up at night with their cries. Red foxes have about three octaves of vocalization, and many of their sounds are unpleasant, even scary.  
    They are hunted with dogs and horses, poisoned and trapped for their skins. Yet still they remain very common.
    Foxes live by cunning and guile and avoid humans by being largely nocturnal. When one is seen in the daylight it is thought to have kits, as fox babies are called, or some such disease as rabies.  
    Red foxes vary in size and fur thickness depending on where they live. The farther north, the larger the animal and thicker the fur. There are also color variations, the silver fox being the most famous.
    A red fox can live in captivity about 15 years but only five years in the wild. Sexually mature within a year, they begin courtship in late winter or early spring. The vixen finds or digs an underground den. She frequently will make several dens in case the kits need to be moved. Three to five kits are born in about 55 days. After three months, they are ready to live on their own. The male will occasionally help with raising the kits and will take over if the female dies.
    Foxes help contain rodent populations; generally you do not even realize that they are around.
    Since foxes can carry rabies, do not feed them and do not feed your pets outside. If you see a fox in the daylight that appears unsteady or does not seem afraid of you, call animal control: Anne Arundel County, 410 222-8900; Calvert County, 410-535-1600 x 2526.