Reddish Vale Country Park
Foxes are the smallest members of the wild dog family.
The Red Fox is the most widely distributed and populous dogs in the world, having colonised large parts of Europe, America, Asia and Africa. It was also introduced into Australia in the 1800’s for recreational hunting although some sources suggest it was to help control the spread of Rabbits.
In the UK the red fox feeds mainly on small rodents such as field mice, rabbits and voles but will eat almost anything it finds, often eating carrion or preying on new-born lambs in the spring. This resourcefulness is one of the main reasons they’ve been able to populate our towns and cities with great success. They are superb hunters, able to sprint, turn and jump with surprising ease for dog.
A female fox, or vixen, mates in the early spring, her mate calling to her with a shrill sounding bark, she answers with a similar high pitched yelping, this being one of the few times of the year that they use this particular sounding bark extensively. In late spring a litter of up to ten kits are born, though the size of the litter is often much smaller. A fox den is often in a hollowed out stump, a dug out hole under a rock outcropping, or even a small cave. The kits quickly learn that all is not work, and playful by nature, will soon follow their mothers about. Foxes will occasionally come out in the middle of the day, but normally days are spent tucked away in their dens sleeping, awaiting nightfall when they can move about more freely.
The fox is not under threat in any of its range due to the ability to cope well around humans, with urban foxes keeping up mystique of being clever and cunning by being able to eke out a living even in urban centres.
Foxes have played a role in the mythologies and folklore of every society that has known them. Most of the stories involve some aspect of the fox's beauty, intelligence, cunning, and individuality. Because of their competition with humans, and their nocturnal nature which could be associated with evil or death, myths about these animals frequently cast the fox in an unappealing light.
In the Scandinavian countries, foxes were believed to cause the northern lights.These aurora were called "revontulet" in Finland, meaning "fox fires". Foxes sometimes replaced cats as witch´s familiars in medieval European folklore, and were occasionally persecuted in the resulting hysteria.The Japanese revered foxes as the divine messengers of Uka no Mitama, the Shinto rice goddess, although tales were also told of evil Japanese foxes that could possess people. Many cultures have stories about shape-shifting "werefoxes". In China and other Asian countries, werefoxes were demons that prolonged their lives by seducing humans and feeding off their souls. A variation of this theme is a myth common among the Siberian Koriak people, the Inuit, and various tribes of native North Americans. "The Mysterious House Keeper", tells of a fox that entered a hunter´s house and removed its skin to become a beautiful woman. When the hunter returned, he found that the woman had cleaned his house and he decided to marry her.The bliss was short lived, however, as the hunter began to complain about his wife's smell. Her feelings hurt, she transformed back into a fox and ran away.
Some of the best known classic fox literature was written over 2,500 years ago by Aesop. His fables told stories about various intelligent animals, and were used to convey a moral point to the reader. Because of their craftiness, beauty, and solitary nature, foxes figured prominently in these fables whenever deceit, pride, or individuality was necessary to the story. One such fable is The Fox and the Grapes. In it, a red fox finds itself in a vineyard and tries to feed on the grapes hanging on the vines. Despite its best efforts, the fox just can't reach the fruit and gives up in frustration. He saves face and consoles himself by saying the grapes were probably sour any ways. The moral of the story is that people often badmouth things they can't have. Like many other of Aesop's fables, the story gave rise to a popular expression (sour grapes) or proverb. With the possible exception of the lion, few other animals are mentioned as often by Aesop as the fox is.
The Fox and the Woodcutter
A fox, running before the hounds, came across a Woodcutter
felling an oak and begged him to show him a safe hiding-place.
The Woodcutter advised him to take shelter in his own hut, so the
Fox crept in and hid himself in a corner. The huntsman soon came
up with his hounds and inquired of the Woodcutter if he had seen
the Fox. He declared that he had not seen him, and yet pointed,
all the time he was speaking, to the hut where the Fox lay
hidden. The huntsman took no notice of the signs, but believing
his word, hastened forward in the chase. As soon as they were
well away, the Fox departed without taking any notice of the
Woodcutter: whereon he called to him and reproached him, saying,
"You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, and yet you
leave me without a word of thanks." The Fox replied, "Indeed, I
should have thanked you fervently if your deeds had been as good
as your words, and if your hands had not been traitors to your
Male foxes tend to be slightly larger than females. The average male weighs approximately 6 - 7 kg and stands 67 -72 cm tall.
Foxes have a short lifespan in the wild, 2 - 4 years, but can live, up to 15 years in captivity.
They have a wide range of diet, invertebrates, rodents, rabbits, reptiles, amphibians, berries, fruit, birds, eggs, and all other kinds of small animals.
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