Fox

Taxobox
name = Fox



image_caption = Red Fox ("Vulpes vulpes")
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Canidae
genus = Vulpes
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = "" "" "" "" "" "" "" "" "" "Vulpes velox" "" ""
A fox is an animal belonging to any one of about 27 species (of which only 12 actually belong to the "Vulpes" genus, or 'true foxes') of small to medium-sized canids, characterized by possessing a long, narrow snout, and a bushy tail, or "brush". By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox ("Vulpes vulpes"), although various species are found on almost every continent. The presence of fox-like carnivores all over the globe has led to their appearance in the popular culture and folklore of many nations, tribes, and other cultural groups (see Foxes in culture).

Etymology

The Modern English "fox" is derived from Old English "fox". The Old English word itself comes from the Proto-Germanic word "fukh" – compare German "Fuchs", Gothic "fauho", Old Norse "foa" and Dutch "vos". It corresponds to the Proto-Indo-European word "puk-" meaning "tail" (compare Sanskrit "puccha", also "tail"). The bushy tail is also the source of the word for fox in Welsh: "llwynog", from "llwyn", "bush, grove" therefore often assumed that it means 'fox', although this meaning was known to be the compiler of the Peniarth Glosses [ [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119890384/abstract Transactions of the Philological Society, retrieved August 31st 2008] ] Lithuanian: "uodegis", from "uodega", "tail", and Portuguese: "raposa", from "rabo", "tail". [ [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=dance&searchmode=none&p=2 The Online Etymology Dictionary, retrieved June 8th 2008: headword "Fox"] ]

General characteristics

Most foxes live 2 to 3 years, but they can survive for up to 10 years or even longer in captivity. Foxes are generally smaller than other members of the family "Canidae" such as wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs. Dogs (male foxes) weigh on average, 5.9kg and vixens (female foxes) weigh less, at 5.2kg (13 lbs and 11.5 lbs, respectively). Fox-like features typically include an acute muzzle (a "fox face") and bushy tail. Other physical characteristics vary according to their habitat. For example, the fennec fox (and other species of foxes adapted to life in the desert, such as the kit fox) has large ears and short fur, whereas the Arctic fox has small ears and thick, insulating fur.

Another example is the red fox which has a typical auburn pelt, the tail normally ending with white marking.

Unlike many canids, foxes are usually not pack animals. Typically, they are solitary, opportunistic feeders that hunt live prey (especially rodents). Using a pouncing technique practiced from an early age, they are usually able to kill their prey quickly. Foxes also gather a wide variety of other foods ranging from grasshoppers to fruit and berries.

Foxes are normally extremely wary of humans and are not kept as pets (with the exception of the fennec); however, the silver fox was successfully domesticated in Russia after a 45 year selective breeding program. This selective breeding also resulted in physical and behavioural traits appearing that are frequently seen in domestic cats, dogs, and other animals: pigmentation changes, floppy ears, and curly tails. [ [http://reactor-core.org/taming-foxes.html Early Canid Domestication: The Fox Farm Experiment] ]

Classification

Canids commonly known as foxes include members of the following genera:
* "Alopex" -- Arctic fox, although the definitive mammal taxonomy list as well as genetic evidence places it in Vulpes, not its own genus "Alopex".
* "Cerdocyon" -- Crab-eating fox
* "Chrysocyon" -- Maned wolf (in English), "aguara guazú" ("big fox" in Guarani) and "zorro rojizo" ("reddish fox", one of several names used by Spanish speakers).
* "Dusicyon" -- Falkland Island fox
* "Lycalopex" -- Hoary fox
* "Otocyon" -- Bat-eared fox
* "Pseudalopex" -- Four South American species, including the culpeo.
* "Urocyon" -- Gray fox, island fox and Cozumel fox
* "Vulpes" -- Including twelve species of true ("vulpine") foxes, including the red fox, "V. vulpes", Tibetan Sand Fox, "Vulpes ferrilata", and their closest kin.

Diet

The diet of foxes is largely made up of invertebrates, however it also includes rodents, rabbits and other small mammals, reptiles, (such as snakes), amphibians, grasses, berries, fruit, fish, birds, eggs, and all other kinds of small animals. Many species are generalist predators, but some (such as the crab-eating fox) are more specialist. Most species of foxes generally consume around 1 kg of food every day. Foxes cache excess food, burying it for later consumption, usually under leaves, snow, or soil.

Conservation

Foxes are readily found in cities and cultivated areas and (depending upon species) seem to adapt reasonably well to human presence.

Red foxes have been introduced into Australia for hunting rabbits and to other countries for the same reason.Fact|date=October 2008|Richard New Forest Australia lacks similar carnivores, and the introduced foxes prey on native wildlife, some to the point of extinction. A similar introduction occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in temperate North America, where European reds ("Vulpes vulpes") were brought to the colonies for fox hunting, where they decimated the American red fox population through more aggressive hunting and breeding. Interbreeding with American reds, traits of the European red eventually pervaded the gene pool, leaving European and American foxes now virtually identical.Fact|date=November 2007

Other fox species do not reproduce as readily as the red fox, and are endangered in their native environments. Key among these are the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) and the African bat-eared fox. Other foxes such as fennec foxes, are not endangered, but will be if humans encroach further into their habitat.

Foxes have been successfully employed to control pests on fruit farms, where they leave the fruit intact. [ [http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pubs/press/foxes.html Foxes on Fruit Farms ] ]

Historians believe foxes were imported into non-native environments long before the colonial era. The first example of the introduction of the fox into a new habitat by humans seems to be Neolithic Cyprus. Stone carvings representing foxes have been found in the early settlement of Göbekli Tepe in eastern Turkey.

ee also

* Fox hunting
* Kitsune (Fox of contained the religion,yōkai, folklores and works in Japan
* Foxes in culture

References

External links

* [http://www.thefoxwebsite.org/ The fox website]
* [http://www.vulpes.org/foxden/sounds/index.htm Fox sound files.]
* [http://www.angelfire.com/ar2/thefoxden/sounds.html More fox sound files.]
* [http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/fox/pubs/fox.pdf Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage fact sheet, 2004]


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