Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red fox in snow, side profile
IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern LEAST

Top facts

  • The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, and has the widest distribution of any member of the order Carnivora.
  • Red foxes can produce 28 different vocalisations.
  • The male red fox is referred to as a dog, while the female is known as a vixen.
  • The red fox’s tail is known as a brush, and can be used by the fox as a warm cover in cold weather.
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Red fox fact file

Red fox description

GenusVulpes (1)

The size of a small dog, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest member of the genus Vulpes and is well-known for its large bushy tail, which is often tipped with white (3). The fur is variable in colour (3), but is usually reddish-brown to flame-red above and white to black below (5); the lower limbs and the back of the ears are often black (3).

Renard Roux.
ZORRO, Zorro Rojo.
Male head-body length: 67 - 72 cm (2)
Female head-body length: 62 - 67 cm (2)
Tail length: 40 cm (2)
Male weight: 6 - 7 kg (2)
Female weight: 5 - 6 kg (2)

Red fox biology

The red fox is typically active at dusk (crepuscular) or at night (nocturnal), but is often active in the day in more undisturbed areas (3). The diet is extremely broad, and includes small mammals, many invertebrates, and birds, as well as fruit, carrion (3) and items scavenged from dustbins, bird tables and compost heaps (2).


Red fox range

Distributed throughout the northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle in the north, as far south as north Africa (3), including much of North America, all of Europe and most of Asia, including Japan (1). The red fox is found practically everywhere in mainland Britain, as well as on many islands (4).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Red fox habitat

This highly adaptable species is found in many habitats, from sand dunes to mountain tops (2). The red fox also occurs in urban areas (4), and seems to fare particularly well in affluent suburbs (3).


Red fox status

The red fox is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1)

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Red fox threats

Foxes are perceived as important predators of ground nesting birds, gamebirds, and livestock, and are therefore widely controlled (6). Most deaths are caused by road accidents, shooting and other methods of control, and secondary poisoning may also be a factor resulting in mortality (4). Furthermore, foxes are hunted with hounds in Britain; this is a contentious issue (2).


Red fox conservation

The red fox is legislatively widely regarded as vermin and is therefore unprotected (3). In Britain, it is protected by closed seasons against hunting (3). No conservation measures are in place (3). Research into fox predation and control is being carried out by the Game Conservancy Trust (6).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Find out more

For more information on the red fox:



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The flesh of a dead animal.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
  2. The Mammal Society (July, 2002)
  3. IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group (July, 2002)
  4. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Macdonald, D.W. and Tattersall, F.T. (2001) Britain's mammals: The Challenge for Conservation. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University.
  6. Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (July, 2002)

Image credit

Red fox in snow, side profile  
Red fox in snow, side profile

© Sergey Gorshkov /

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