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Transcript of Red Fox
Why The Red Fox?
Reproduction/ Life Cycle
Closely Related Organisms
The red fox has an elongated body, measuring about 45-90 cm long, with relatively short limbs, standing about 35-50 cm at the shoulder. The tail, which is longer than half the body length, is fluffy and reaches the ground when in a standing position. The forepaws have five digits, while the hind feet only have four. They are very agile, being capable of jumping over 2-metre high fences, and swim well. Red foxes generally weigh 10-15 pounds. females tend to have smaller skulls than males, as well as having larger canines.
The red fox has a coat of soft, fine underfur and long guard hairs. They are typically a rich, rusty, orange, often have a white-tipped tail, black ears and legs as well as a white belly and jaw.
Red foxes are the largest species of the Vulpes genus, however, they are much lighter than similarly sized dogs of the genus Canis. Their limb bones, for example, weigh 30% less per unit area of bone than similarly sized dogs.
Breathing is accomplished by the contractions of intercostal muscles associated with the diaphragm and rib cage. During inhalation, the diaphragm expands toward the abdomen, causing a change in pressure, and thus pulling air and oxygen into the lungs as they inflate. When the muscle contracts it puts pressure on the the lungs and causes exhalation. The respiratory system is composed of the nostrils, nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and the lungs. Foxes have two lungs that are subdivided into lobes. Air is inhaled through the mouth or nasal cavity and travels into the trachea. From the trachea air enters two bronchi, which lead into the lungs.
The red fox has a four chambered, closed circulatory system that is composed of the heart, arteries, arterioles, veins, venules, and capillaries. The circulatory system transports oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and chemicals to tissue, and carries waste and carbon dioxide away from tissue. The circulatory system also helps to regulate body temperature.
Food passes from the mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach, where digestion begins. Since foxes have a high protein diet, most digestion is done in the stomach.The partly digested food then enters the duodenum of the small intestine, where most nutrients are absorbed. After the small intestine, food passes to the cecum where materials are further broken down. Finally, food waste passes to the large intestine of the fox where little digestion is done, but where more water is absorbed, and then the waste exits the body through the anus. The liver, gall bladder and pancreas also play a part in digestion.
The kidneys are the prime organs of the excretory system. foxes have two, one on each side, near the spinal column. The kidneys remove metabolic wastes and toxins from the blood while taking up some of the fluid and any nutrients that pass through them. Kidneys can concentrate urine or dilute it, depending on how much the fox is drinking and if there are any health problems. Urine made by the kidneys is then passed down the ureters to the bladder. The bladder collects and holds urine until the amount is big enough to stimulate the fox to urinate.
Like many mammals, red foxes reproduce once a year in spring using internal fertilization with gestation period lasting 49–58 days. Though foxes are generally monogamous, Subordinate vixens may become pregnant, but usually are unable to give birth, or have their newborn kits killed by the dominant female or other subordinates.
red foxes have developed a behavioral adaptation to the unreliable availability of prey. Caching is a method red foxes use to store food for later. During this process, a shallow hole 5-10 cm deep is dug, a small food item is deposited, and then the hole is covered and camouflaged.
Their auditory perception is incredible, being able to hear black grouses changing roosts at 600 paces, the flight of crows at 0.25–0.5 kilometres and the squeaking of mice at about 100 metres. They are capable of locating sounds to within one degree at 700–3,000 Hz, though less accurately at higher frequencies.
Their amazing ability to hone in on the magnetic field of the planet, explained in this video
Red foxes are omnivores with a highly varied diet. They primarily feed on small, mouse-like rodents, and will also prey on birds, porcupines, raccoons, opossums, reptiles, insects, other invertebrates and flotsam. Red foxes prefer to hunt alone, in the early morning hours before sunrise and late evening. When hunting mouse-like prey, they first pinpoint their prey's location by sound, then leap, sailing high above their quarry, steering in mid-air with their tails, before landing on target up to 5 metres away. They are extremely possessive of their food, and will defend their catches from even dominant animals. Red foxes readily eat plant material and in some areas, fruit can amount to 100% of their diet in autumn.
Predators and Competition
While red foxes compete with many animals such as racoon dogs, jackals, and other fox species for food and territory, their real predators include lynxes, wolves, cougars, bobcats, and occasionally large raptors such as Eurasian eagle owls will prey on young foxes, while golden eagles have been known to kill adults. The lynxes chase red foxes into deep snow, where their longer legs and larger paws give them an advantage over foxes.
It is possible that Eurasian badgers and red foxes tolerate each other out of commensalism; foxes provide badgers with food scraps, while badgers maintain the shared burrow's cleanliness. However, they have been known to kill each others young on occasion.
Effect on Their Environment
having been introduced to Australia, where it is considered harmful to native mammals and bird populations. Due to its presence in Australia, it is included among the list of the "world's 100 worst invasive species".[3
having been introduced to Australia, it is considered harmful to native mammals and bird populations. Due to this, it is included among the list of the "world's 100 worst invasive species".
Red foxes either establish stable home ranges within particular areas or are nomads with no fixed home. They use their urine to mark their territories and empty cache sites, used to store food for later, as reminders not to waste time coming back to them. Red foxes live in family groups sharing a joint territory.
Family groups consist of dominant male and female foxes as well as 1-2 or up to 8 subordinate foxes in one territory. These subordinates could be formerly dominant foxes, but are mostly young from the previous year, who act as helpers in rearing the breeding vixen's kits. Non-breeding vixens will guard, play, groom, and retrieve kits. Red foxes may leave their families once they reach adulthood if the chances of winning a territory of their own are high. If not, they will stay with their parents, at the cost of postponing their own reproduction.
Red foxes will sometimes burrow during the breeding season, or to escape bad weather. Their burrows are often dug on hill or mountain slopes, ravines, bluffs, steep banks of water bodies, ditches, in rock clefts and neglected human environments. Dens built among tree roots can last for decades, while those dug on the slopes last only several years.
Red fox communication is done largely through body language, consisting of movements of the ears, tail and postures, similar to those of cats and dogs. However, red foxes also have a wide vocal range, adults producing 12 different sounds and kits producing 8.
Red foxes can run up to 45 mph.
While the red colouring of the
is most common, there are various reoccurring colour mutations.
Red foxes feature in Celtic, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Arab and Native American mythology as deceitful symbols, likely due to their elusive behavior.
Foxes are able to recognize each others voices, and will respond to a pre-recorded call of it's kin, and not to that of an unknown fox.
The earliest historical records of fox hunting come from the 4th century BC; Alexander the Great is known to have hunted foxes and a seal dated from 350 BC depicts a Persian horseman in the process of spearing a fox. The Romans were hunting foxes by 80 AD. Foxes were gradually hunted less as vermin and more as Beasts of the Chase, to the point that by the late 13th century, Edward I had a royal pack of foxhounds and a specialised fox huntsman. By the Renaissance, fox hunting became a traditional sport of the nobility. Although already native to North America, red foxes from England were imported for sporting purposes to Virginia and Maryland in 1730.
Foxes have been hunted for their pelts throughout history, and unfortunatly, dispite recent anti-fur movements, foxes are still being harvested for their fur.
Red foxes are generally unsuitable as pets. Many "abandoned" kits are adopted by well-meaning people during the spring period, though it is unlikely that vixens would abandon their young. Actual orphans are rare, and the ones that are adopted are likely kits that simply strayed from their den site. Though friendly toward people when young, captive red foxes become fearful of humans, save for their handlers, once they reach 10 weeks of age. They maintain their wild counterpart's strong instinct of concealment, and may pose a threat to domestic birds, even when well fed.
Foxes are actually listed as "least concern" by the ICUN and are an invasive species in Australia. Local eradication programs are in action, although they have proven difficult due to the elusive behavior, so the focus is on management with the introduction of state bounties.The main form of control is baits, typically containing poison. Fox hunting is legal in all states and they are typically shot with the aid of spotlighting at night or attracted using fox whistles during the day. The reintroduction of native competitive species has also been suggested as a method of control. Research by the CSIRO concluded that the presence of dingos would not only decrease the presence of foxes, but increase native fauna.
The average litter size is 4-6 kits though litters of up to 13 kits have been recorded. Kits are born blind, deaf and toothless, with dark brown fluffy fur. At birth, they weigh 56–110 g.
Mothers remain with the kits for 2–3 weeks, as they are unable to thermoregulate. During this period, the fathers or barren vixens feed the mothers. Vixens are very protective of their kits, and have been known to even fight off terriers in their defence. If the mother dies before the kits are independent, the father takes on the role.
The kit's eyes an dear canals open after 13–15 days, and their teethe begin to emerge.
Coat colour begins to change at 3 weeks of age, when the black eye streak appears. By one month, red and white patches are apparent on their faces. During this time, their ears erect and their muzzles elongate.
Kits begin to leave their dens and experiment with solid food brought by their parents at the age of 3–4 weeks. Their eyes are blue as kits, but change to amber at 4–5 weeks.
The lactation period lasts 6–7 weeks.
Their woolly coats begin to be coated by shiny guard hairs after 8 weeks.
By the age of 3–4 months, the kits are long-legged, narrow-chested and sinewy.
They reach adult proportions at the age of 6–7 months and are fully mature at around one year.
In captivity, red foxes can live as long as 15 years, though in the wild they typically do not survive past 5 years of age.
Red foxes are Eurasian in origin, the earliest fossil specimens of V. vulpes were uncovered in Barany, Hungary dating from between 3.4 and 1.8 million years ago. The ancestral species were much smaller than the current one, as the earliest red fox fossils are smaller than today's populations. The earliest fossil remains of the modern species date back to association with early human settlements. This has led to the theory that the red fox was hunted by primitive humans as both a source of food and pelts. The change in size could be in part due to larger, more muscular foxes being more successful at evading capture and therefore passing on their larger genes. Many other species of foxes have also evolved from these common ancestors, each developing unique adaptations that have allowed them to fill niches all around the world.
the red fox is a stunning creature, well known for it's striking coat and role in multiple ancient cultures as a cunning and elusive entity. The species is not in any danger of becoming extinct, quite the contrary; the red fox is an invasive species in certain ares where it has been introduced. For this reason, the magnificent red fox needs to be humanely eradicated save for in it's native environments, where it can continue to inspire awe.
To conclude this project, the red fox is an organism worthy of protection, but human ignorance led it to be introduced into and an environment where it would become a nuisance. In order for Australia's ecosystem to right itself, and the red fox to be seen as more than a mere pest, they must be humanely eradicated from Australia, and humans must refrain from introducing species. Hopefully once this is achieved, the Red foxes will be seen as the magnificent organism they are.