Like other wild dogs, the red fox hunts primarily at night. They are often alone for much of the year, sleeping curled up in a ball at the base of a tree or rock, even in winter. They are found throughout Minnesota, but their range includes North America and Eurasia, where they live in a variety of habitats from Arctic to temperate zones. These foxes especially like countrysides where there are mixed woodlands and fields. This explains why they are frequently found in rural areas dotted with farms.
Red foxes mate between January and March, and the females typically bear four to six kits in April or May. The male and female, both monogamous, stay with each other from the breeding season until the young are dispersed, usually at the end of September. At this time in May, many families of kits are outside their dens each day playing in the warm sunlight.
The den is occupied only for birthing and raising young. It consists of a burrow that the foxes dig or remodel from the den of another animal. While the mother stays with the young in the den, the father hunts, bringing back mice, voles, rabbits, squirrels and birds. Red foxes are omnivores, so they also eat berries and other fruits, nuts, fish, insects and carrion.
Adult red foxes weigh 7 to 15 pounds and are about 3 feet long, including the large, bushy tail with the white tip. They stand about 15 inches tall. They are normally rusty red with black legs and white chest and belly. A few are black or silver.
Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.