Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes

Brief Natural History

The red fox has the largest geographical range of any member of the order Carnivora. Their range blankets multiple continents across the northern hemisphere from North America all the way to parts of Asia! They are very adaptable and capable of successfully surviving in both urban and natural landscapes, and can be found in numerous types of habitats. Red foxes are not a threatened species as their populations remain stable. This solitary creature will hunt prey such as small rodents, birds, small game, amphibians, fish, and insects. They are omnivorous and also eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Foxes have thick tails, which aid in balancing and can also serve as a warm cover in cold climates.

Where do Red Foxes that need rescue come from?

Private owners, closing roadside zoos, orphaned or injured individuals unable to be rehabilitated, fur farms, and nuisance animals are all possible sources of foxes in need. Although there are laws prohibiting the ownership of exotics in many states, every state’s laws are different, and even laws do not prevent some people from attempting to keep these animals.

Conservation efforts

The red fox is listed under the least concern category by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with population numbers remaining stable.

Exhibition/Captive Laws

Red foxes are protected animals in Minnesota. Unless otherwise stated by fish and game laws, it is illegal to take, buy, sell, transport, or possess a protected wild animal.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only Federal law that regulates the treatment of animals used commercially and for research. The law states that it is illegal to transport, purchase, sell, house, care for, or handle warm-blooded wild native and exotic species (excepting birds and certain rats and mice) without the proper permit/license from the USDA. Laws applicable to the private ownership of animals vary by state.

Fun Facts

Red foxes compete for space with coyotes, which have been known to kill foxes. They are one of the few predators that store food items for future use, called caching.

Red foxes can have some variations in color, with the most common variation being a melanistic (dark colored) form. These melanistic foxes have darker fur and are commonly referred to as “silver foxes”, which are not to be confused with the separate species, the gray fox.


  • Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 2002. Web. 15 June 2016.
  • N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
  • Macdonald, D.W. & Reynolds, J.C. 2008. Vulpes vulpes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T23062A9412884.
  • "Support the." Vulpes Vulpes (Cross Fox, Red Fox, Silver Fox). N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
  • "2015 Minnesota Statutes." 97A.015 -. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
  • "2015 Minnesota Statutes." 97A.501 -. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.