I can smell when the Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes fulva) have been around. They urinate to mark where they've traveled. Its kind of a pungent, rancid-smelling odor. . . almost like burnt motor oil.
This fox inhabits the dry lake bed behind the house. The lake, once 700 acres, is now thick, tall grasses and small trees which provides the fox with great cover.
With their acute sense of hearing, they can locate small mammals in thick grass, and they jump high in the air to pounce on the prey. They also stalk prey such as rabbits, keeping hidden until close enough to catch them in a short dash. Foxes tend to be extremely possessive of their food and will not share it with others. If food is plentiful, they may kill more than they immediately need, and cache the extra in the ground.
After mating the male and female stay together. She is pregnant for 52 days, and five babies are usually born in March. They are blind and helpless for about two weeks. During this time, the female (vixen) stays in the den with the kits at all times, and the male brings her food. She feeds milk to the babies and keeps them warm and clean. When the babies are about six weeks old, they start coming out of the den. They fight with each other to decide who is the strongest (dominant). When they are about three months old, their parents bring mice back for them to practice hunting and eating. After six months, the kits are fully grown. In October, they head out on their own. Sometimes the female kits will stay with the mother and help her raise the next litter of kits during the following spring.
Breeding occurs in late fall or early winter. A pair usually mates for life. An average of 5 pups are born after a gestation period of about 53 days. At birth the pups are blind, helpless, and brownish-black. They nurse for about two months and stay with their parents for about 6 months. The den site is usually a dug out underground burrow, through they sometimes may enlarge the burrow of gopher tortoise or armadillo. The dens are usually 20-40 feet long and 3-4 deep, with multiple entrances.
Foxes are in the same family as dogs, coyotes, and wolves (Canidae).
In general foxes like open fields and wooded areas. Our lake has become an open field, perfect for foxes. They are primarily nocturnal, starting to hunt at sundown. Red foxes are opportunistic eaters. . . they will eat pretty much anything they can find (grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, berries, nuts, grains. . . and small animals like mice rabbits, birds, snakes and turtles).
Red foxes only use dens to have their babies. The rest of the time, they find an open place in the grass or brush to rest. Resting in the open makes it easier for them to spot predators. A fox den is usually an old burrow from another animal like a tortoise or armadillo. The fox makes it bigger and adds extra tunnels. The den may have up to five entrances, so the fox can make a quick escape if it has to. Also, red foxes have more than one den, and they often move their babies (kits) around to different dens while they are growing up.
Humans have completely eliminated their natural predators on the Florida peninsula (bobcats, lynxes, panthers, and wolves).