Foxes | Wildlife & Habitats | Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
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Fox Food

A major factor contributing to the foxes’ success is their eating habits. Foxes are omnivores, who will eat virtually anything they come across. They have a reputation for taking poultry, but more often eat such undesirables as rats and slugs, along with fruit, berries, roots, carrion, and, in cities, discarded chips and pizzas. Instead of chicken thieves, they are more frequently nature’s dustmen.


Foxes often only live for one or two years, although they have been known to survive up to nine years. They are territorial, and for most of the year they form small family groups. Mating occurs in January, so this is the chief time for travelling. In March the cubs are often born after a fifty-three day gestation period.

Care of the young is often delegated to females related to the mother. The cubs soon grow and, through play, learn to fend for themselves. Consequently the adults often leave them alone for long periods. It is important not to interfere with “abandoned” cubs, as the vixens will return for them. Between August and November the cubs leave the family group to find new territories, often taking over from old and weak adults. Territories range from two square kilometres in urban areas to forty square kilometres in hill country.

Fox Spotting

Foxes are active nocturnally, so the best time to watch for them is at dawn or dusk. They do not hibernate, so are often seen all year round, but in the summer you may have the added bonus of seeing the cubs playing. Foxes are very distinctive, although people are often surprised at how small they are, just a foot high to the shoulder. They are not necessarily very red either; they can be many shades of brown.

Threat or Threatened?

When a fox and cat meet, they will either ignore each other, or the fox will come off worst. As long as small pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits are securely locked up they will not be taken. However, tamed foxes that are released are a problem for poultry farmers and other stock-keepers as their lack of fear enables them to take fowl during daytime, near to human activity. Most diseases that affect foxes are not transmittable to humans, or their pets, and if rabies is introduced foxes will be no more dangerous than domestic cats and dogs. People pose far more danger to foxes than vice versa. Cars are the primary cause of casualties; killing foxes feeding on carrion and foxes on the move. Foxes who are injured often recover, hidden away, and should not be moved, although supplying food may improve their survival chances. Likewise, cubs who are “rescued” when thought to be abandoned do not usually prosper, and truly orphaned cubs are often cared for by other family members.

” Pest control” generally has a small impact on the fox population as a whole. Use of poison bait intended to kill foxes is illegal due to the risk of poisoning other species. A range of ‘control’ measures are legal, but there are considerable concerns over the level of cruelty that some of these methods include.

See also Foxes and Urban Foxes by S. Harris, published by Anthony Nelson.
And Running with the Fox by D. MacDonald, published by Unwin Hyman.

You can also download and print this Foxes fact sheet

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