Foxes and wolves are indeed related as they both come from the Canidae family, members of the biological family of carnivorous mammals that includes foxes, wolves, dogs, coyotes, jackals, etc. A member of this particular family is often referred to as a canid. The Canidae family is divided into two tribes, first you have the Canini (related to wolves), and then you have the Vulpini (related to foxes). The two species of the basal Caninae are more primitive and do not fit into either tribe. Almost all Canids are social animals that tend to live together in groups. Wolves can be found living together in even larger groups known as packs.
Foxes are typically nocturnal animals, especially those who can be found around urban areas, as they prefer to hunt and wander around at night when the chances of them being seen or disturbed by humans is less likely, and there is less going on at this time of night. However, contrary to what some believe, some foxes may occasionally be active during the day as long as they feel secure and have somewhere nearby to freely escape to should they need to flee.
Foxes can be found during the day pursuing prey like squirrels, who are also active during the day. You are more likely to see a fox out during the day during times of food shortages. Contrary to popular belief, not all foxes that are out during the day are rabid, this is simply not true, though it is a rare possibility. One breed of fox that is definitely diurnal (most active during the day) is the Channel Island Fox.
Although foxes are wild by nature, there are in fact many records of domesticated red foxes and other breeds of foxes, but rarely of sustained domestication. One most recent and notable case, however, is the Russian silver fox, otherwise known as the domesticated silver fox. The Soviet Union and Russia have been doing experiments in this breed of fox for well over 50 years now, and as a result the newer foxes became more tame and exhibited certain behaviors such as letting themselves be pet, whimpering to get attention, and even licking their caretakers.
These foxes are becoming more and more doglike over time, as they have been witnessed being more friendly to humans, putting their ears down like a dog, wagging their tails when they are happy, and sometimes even vocalizing and barking like the average domesticated dog would. Even more fascinating is that these creatures have somehow also managed to lose their distinctive musky fox smell, and are beginning to change in their physical appearance as well. Such changes in characteristics include color pattern, developing floppy ears, shorter legs and curved, shorter tails.
Foxes can come in all different colors, it really just depends on the breed of fox. There are approximately 25 to 30 different breeds of foxes. Generally a foxes coat is red (hence the name red fox), with the back of the ears and the front of the legs black, and the throat and stomach either white or grey. There is a genetic mutation with an absence of guard hairs, known as the Samson fox, and very rarely white individuals have been recorded.
Black foxes are quite common in North America. These foxes, although they are black are known as “silver foxes” as the hair on their butts are tipped with silver and stands out against the black fur that covers the rest of their bodies. One other variation is the cross fox, which is only present in North America. The cross fox has a prominent black stripe along their spine as well as a stripe along their shoulders at a right angle, which gives the appearance of a cross, hence its name “cross fox”. Other breeds and colors include the arctic fox (white in the winter and brown in the summer in the Arctic), the swift fox (orange, tan, and about the same size as a domesticated cat), and the grey fox.
While you might be afraid if you happen to come across a fox in your neighborhood, chances are Mr. Fox is just as scared, if not more scared of you, than you are of him. This is because contrary to what many believe, foxes are typically very timid creatures, who are rarely aggressive towards humans or pets. In fact, most foxes will not attack or bite unless they feel threatened or cornered. If you and a fox end up in the same place, chances are he will flee rather than fight. The best thing to do if you find a fox is to leave it be.
Trying to use the human experience of color to understand what a fox can or cannot see is very difficult, without actually being able to experience what a fox sees. With that being said, a fox’s eyesight is a complex manner. Keep reading to find out more.
Cones And Rods
Cones and rods (located in the eye) are parts of the body, responsible for interpreting light and sending relevant signals to the brain. These cells are important and serve two different purposes. Rods are cells that are sensitive to low light levels, thus making them useful for seeing in low light and/or detecting movement. However, these cells only see in grey scale. Cone cells on the other hand are important cells when dealing with color. In order to better understand the color capabilities of foxes one would have to look at the type and distribution of cone cells to determine what colors they can or cannot see.
Studies that have been done on cone and rod cells in the eyes of foxes and dogs have found that there are far more rod cells. In addition, these rod cells only see black and white. Cone cells on the other hand are used to detect colors. Basically, what this means is that foxes and dogs are both able to see well at night and can also distinguish well between different shades of grey. The can also detect movement easily, which is important in a fox’s case as it helps them hunt their prey.
Studies of the cone cells found in foxes and dogs have shown that there are two cone pigments which tend to dominate the eyes of both animals. The first pigment is light green, otherwise known as 550nm on the electromagnetic spectrum. The other pigment is between 430 and 440nm on this spectrum. (Dark blue or purple). This means that foxes technically have dichromatic vision. Dichromatic vision is limited to two colors. Foxes are most likely red-green color blind. This type of blindness is shared by 6-8% of human beings.
Foxes typically are not dangerous to humans, except when they are rabid (which is very rare). Foxes are generally not aggressive creatures however they are more likely to attack a human if captured, cornered, and/or handled, however even then it takes a lot to make a fox angry or scared enough to bite. Foxes are timid, withdrawn creatures by nature and are much more likely to flee rather than fight.
The red fox will occasionally prey on smaller animals such as small house cats, kittens, rabbits, and poultry if found or left outside unprotected. Both red and grey foxes enjoy eating fruit, but very rarely bother gardens or fruit trees. Unfortunately even though this creature does not purposely mean us humans harm and are very unlikely to attack, thousands are still killed every year simply because they are perceived as being a threat.
It is quite common for foxes to live nearby human residences and communities. They can be found frequently inhabiting yards, parks, etc. and they are especially common in areas that adjoin suitable, undeveloped habitat. Most foxes do not pose a threat to humans. In fact, foxes can grow accustomed to human activity and are seldom aggressive towards humans. Foxes are actually timid, withdrawn creatures.
As with any animal however, a fox may occasionally bite or attack a human or pet if he is cornered, feels trapped and/or intimidated. It is for this reason that individuals should never try to catch a fox or go near a fox that is cornered. If you happen to see a fox, you should give it an easy escape route to avoid any confrontation. Rabies is another concern, however as long as you follow the tips above you should be just fine, should you come in close contact with a fox.
In addition to giving the fox plenty of room to escape, homeowners can also take additional steps to reduce their likelihood of having a fox come into their yard. Eliminating or limiting possible food sources such as pet food, scraps of meat, compost piles, trash bags, and fruit below trees can help reduce your chances of running into a hungry fox. Garbage containers should be tightly covered. Fencing can also help keep foxes at bay.
Foxes are typically withdrawn, timid creatures. They are not aggressive by nature and will not openly attack a human per say. However, if they happen to find themselves cornered or feeling intimidated, they may bite or attack in self defense, as any animal would or person would. Never try to capture a trapped or cornered fox, instead make an easy escape route for him so he can get away safely. In some parts of the world, foxes are kept as exotic pets and have been trained. If a fox is tame enough to train, they have been said to make good companions, but they do best out in the wild on their own with other foxes, where they were intended to be.
Since foxes are wild animals you will need to check with your state statute or local ordinance to see whether or not it is legal to keep a fox as a pet, as these laws regarding exotic pets vary from state to state. In addition, keeping a fox as a pet may require a special license, vet check, inspections by the government, fees, etc. Individuals can also call their local animal control office or do a search online to view the laws and regulations regarding this matter.
Foxes As Pets: Things To Consider
Before you decide to obtain a fox and try keeping it as a pet there are a few things that you should consider. While these furry critters might seem cute, the truth is they have strong instincts since they are wild animals. There is a possibility that they may be aggressive, and try to establish and defend their territory by exhibiting spraying and/or digging behaviors. Foxes can be very difficult to tame. They also have a very strong smell that they give off and it is extremely unpleasant in close quarters. Some have compared it to that of a skunk’s scent.
Foxes need a lot of space to run around and they love to dig, which can be a bad thing if they decide to dig up your yard or in your house. These animals are also at high risk of contracting rabies and therefore should be vaccinated. However, finding a veterinarian who is willing to vaccinate a wild animal can prove to be difficult, which is another issue if you are still adamant about befriending a fox and making it your pet.