The Red Fox has the widest geographical range of any member of the order Carnivora, Distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the Asiatic steppes, a range covering nearly 70 million km². Not found in Iceland, the Arctic islands, some parts of Siberia, or in extreme deserts. European subspecies introduced into eastern United States and Canada in 17th century, subsequently mixed with local subspecies. The species was also introduced to Australia in 1800s. Elsewhere introduced to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and to the Isle of Man (UK), although it may subsequently have disappeared there. Red Foxes are adaptable and opportunistic omnivores and are capable of successfully occupying urban areas. In many habitats, foxes appear to be closely associated with man, even thriving in intensive agricultural areas. The species currently is not under threat.
Population trend: Stable
Habitat and Ecology: Red Foxes have been recorded in habitats as diverse as tundra, desert and forest, as well as in city centres (including London, Paris, Stockholm, etc.). Natural habitat is dry, mixed landscape, with abundant "edge" of scrub and woodland. They are also abundant on moorlands, mountains (even above the treeline, known to cross alpine passes), deserts, sand dunes and farmland from sea level to 4,500 m. In the UK, they generally prefer mosaic patchworks of scrub, woodland and farmland. Red foxes flourish particularly well in urban areas. They are most common in residential suburbs consisting of privately owned, low-density housing and are less common where industry, commerce or council rented housing predominates (Harris and Smith 1987). In many habitats, foxes appear to be closely associated with man, even thriving in intensive agricultural areas.
Major Threats: The main threats include habitat degradation,
loss, and fragmentation, and exploitation, and direct and indirect persecution.
However, the Red Fox's versatility and eclectic diet are likely to ensure their
persistence despite changes in landscape and prey base. Culling may be able to
reduce numbers well below carrying capacity in large regions (Heydon and
Reynolds 2000), but no known situations exist where this currently threatens
species persistence on any geographical scale. There are currently bounties on
subspecies V. v. pusilla (desert foxes) in Pakistan to protect game birds
such as Houbara bustards (Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii), with a high
The number of foxes raised for fur (although much reduced since the 1900s) exceeds that of any other species, except possibly mink (Mustela vison) (Obbard 1987). Types farmed are particularly colour variants ("white", "silver" and "cross") that are rare in the wild.
Worldwide trade in ranched red fox pelts (mainly "silver" pelts from Finland) was 700,000 in 1988–1989 (excluding internal consumption in the USSR). Active fur trade in Britain in 1970s was negligible.
Red Fox - © Patty Hoyt
For more photos and videos of this and other wild canid species, see:
English: silver fox, cross fox; French: renard roux; German: rotfuchs