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Vulpes vulpes

Red foxes are about the same size as a medium dog, with orange fur, a white belly and black tips on their ears. Their tails are bushy and have a white tip. Foxes are opportunistic, intelligent and social mammals, and are a familiar sight almost everywhere in the British Isles. They can be found throughout the countryside and towns, as well as in woodland, heathland and farms.

Foxes generally feed on small mammals, insects, birds, amphibians, berries, and fruit, but are extremely opportunistic and will take advantage of rubbish bins or other food sources left by humans. Foxes live in surprisingly complex social groups, usually consisting of a dominant breeding pair and their cubs, with juveniles from previous years helping to rear the younger cubs. They mate between December and February (when you will often hear the haunting contact cries that have inspired folktales of screaming banshees) and give birth between March and May. Cubs, which can number up to six, are born deaf and blind, and are weaned at four weeks old. They will stay with their parents for four to five months.

The main threat to the species is from road accidents, especially in the case of younger animals when they start to explore and are looking for new territories. Sadly foxes are still targeted by humans, and are frequently poisoned or shot. Hunting with dogs is illegal in England and Wales under the Hunting Act 2004, and is also illegal in Scotland.

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