words and pictures by Peter Hanscomb
The Red Fox , Britains only remaining wild canine . Probably no other wild animal devides public opinion in the U.K. quite like the fox. For some the fox represents a danger , particularly to live stock farmers and game estates and for others the fox is a much welcomed inquisitive friend . This night time hunter and scavenger is shy and naturally weary of humans and for good reason , humans in the U.K. are the foxes only predator. Personally I find the fox a fascinating animal to observe, photograph and interact with. When I say interact I don’t mean touch or pet but more observe their behaviour and how they react to my presence and that of other people both in the wild and urban environments.
The red fox , Vulpes vulpes is the largest member of the twenty-one fox species found around the world. . Highly adaptable the fox can be found in almost every habitat throughout the British Isles from the mountain ranges of Scotland , in our forests and fields , and even in our towns , cities and villages. The Urban Fox now accounts for over twenty percent of the total population and has been a common sight in most urban areas since it started to move into suburbia in the 1940’s. In total it’s estimated that there are 260,000 foxes in total in th UK with 50,000 foxes making their homes in our urban areas.
The fox is easy to recognise , with its reddish orange coat and thick busy tale during winter , off white breast and dark almost black fur on the lower part of the legs . It’s size is similar to a small dog , with the male or dog weighing in at around 7-10 Kg and the female or vixen slightly smaller ( normally at least one kilo lighter ) . Surprisingly the average life expectancy is only 2-3 years , with the main cause of death being disease, road kill and the intervention of man. Sadly many foxes will not reach their first birthday , however individuals have been recorded living past 9 years in the wild and up to 14 years in captivity, much the same as their domestic cousins.