Foxes are small to medium-sized canids. In comparison, a medium-sized fox is about the same size as a very large house cat. Fox characteristics make it easy to identify a fox since they are much smaller than coyotes and other wild dogs.
An average fox is around 20 pounds. They have pointy ears that can hear very low frequencies, which helps them locate small rodents that they prey on. The tail of the fox is fluffy and helps to keep them warm in cold places, by wrapping it around themselves.
Foxes have always had a mysterious way about them. They are solitary animals that stay away from humans, for the most part. Recently the urban fox phenomenon has become more prevalent, bringing foxes out into the daylight, and our backyards.
Let’s take a closer look at fox characteristics and what makes them stand out from other animals.
What are Foxes Characteristics
When it comes to foxes, many things stand out. Foxes are smaller than most other wild canids, such as coyotes, wolves, and other wild dogs. When most people think of a fox they see the big fluffy tail and small sleek stature.
Most fox tails have colors at the end of the tail called tags. red foxes tend to have white tags, fennec foxes and gray foxes have black tags. This can help tell them apart. Gray foxes sometimes get confused with red foxes, but the tag color can help clear up any doubt.
Red foxes have multiple color morphs, red, cross fox, black foxes, and even white foxes can be of the red fox species. Arctic foxes are generally smaller than red foxes and have wider faces. This can make it easier to tell the difference between a red fox with a white color morph, versus an arctic fox.
What is the Personality of a Fox?
In literature and other forms of media, the fox tends to get a bad wrap as being sly, mischievous, and even a trickster. While foxes will prey on some farm animals such as chickens, their main diet consists of other wild prey.
Foxes are solitary and stick to themselves. They tend to avoid other animals and most people. A fox’s personality is shy and timid. They will usually only get aggressive during the mating season when the males are fighting over the females.
Unless you live in a place where urban foxes have made their way into your town or city, seeing a fox is usually pretty rare. Anytime I see a wild fox, I stay as far back as possible and admire them from a distance.
Characteristics of a Red Fox
The red fox is the most common fox in the world. They are found in many countries and regions and have even made their way to Japan, the middle east, and other parts of Asia. The average red fox is around 20-30 pounds.
Their fur is orange, red, white, and black. They usually have black feet, with orange body hair. White and gray underbellies are common on red foxes, and the tips of their tails can have a white tag. Red foxes can run up to 30 miles per hour!
Red foxes are probably the most friendly of foxes. Urban foxes are mostly red fox species, and they have started to adapt their behavior, coming out to hunt in daylight and twilight hours. Foxes are mostly nocturnal, but in recent years they have become more crepuscular.
Physical Characteristics of an Arctic Fox
Arctic foxes are smaller than red foxes. They are 10-15 pounds on average. There are two main color morphs of arctic foxes, the white morph and the blue morph. The blue morph looks more like a charcoal gray.
Arctic foxes have fluffy tails that they wrap around themselves to keep warm in harsh winter conditions. Arctic foxes are from the northern hemisphere where the temperatures get below freezing. They have fur on the bottoms of their footpads that keep them from getting frostbite.
Arctic foxes have wider faces than red foxes, black noses, and much smaller stature. They can have a variety of eye colors, such as orange, yellow, amber, and even blue.
Characteristics of a Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes are the smallest of the fox species and may be the smallest of the wild canids. They come from the desert regions of Africa and Arabia and tend to live in larger family groups. They have tan fur that helps them blend into the desert landscape.
Fennec foxes have huge ears, with blood vessels that help regulate their body temperature, as well as listen for small prey such as rodents and insects. The fennec fox’s main diet consists of insects and small rodents.
Characteristics of a Gray Fox
Gray foxes are smaller than red foxes. The average gray fox is around 15 pounds. They are the only wild canid that has retractable claws, allowing them to climb trees, for this reason, they are called tree foxes.
They have salt and pepper-colored fur that helps them blend in with the trees. Gray foxes can not run as fast as red foxes so they tend to rely on their ability to blend in. Gray foxes prefer to live in wooded areas and brushy areas, with plenty of shrubs.
What are 5 Interesting Facts About Foxes?
There are many interesting facts about foxes, but here are my top 5 favorite facts about foxes.
- Red foxes are the most widely dispersed wild canid in the world.
- Foxes are mostly nocturnal but have adapted to become crepuscular.
- Foxes have a unique hunting method where they pounce down onto prey.
- In captivity, foxes can live much longer, 10-15 years, rather than 2-3 years in the wild.
- Arctic foxes have dens built under rocks and cliffs, that are generational, with up to 100 entrances.
There is no doubt foxes are my favorite animal. The way they can survive in harsh conditions, such as the arctic tundra, or the deserts of Africa, always amazes me. They have learned to adapt to survive.
Best Characteristics of a Fox
These are some of the best characteristics of foxes, that make them one of the most unique animals on the planet.
They can see in the dark. Foxes can see in the dark, like cats. This is proof that they were originally completely nocturnal. They hunted at night and slept during the day. Over time, they have adapted their behavior.
Foxes are monogamous. Most foxes mate for life. This means they do not seek out other partners, rather they stay with their mates, raising multiple litters. There has been evidence that a female will seek a new mate if the male dies.
Foxes are omnivores. Foxes eat a variety of small mammals, such as rabbits, lemmings, and rodents, as well as fruits and vegetables. They are opportunistic and will feed on carrion (carcasses left by other animals.)
See more about Fox Behavior.
Fox characteristics show just how awesome these little creatures are. They are beautiful animals that have adapted in so many ways. Every time I see a fox I can’t help but smile and think about how lucky I am to witness their beauty.
They help balance out the ecosystem and in most cases are beneficial. Remember, if you see a fox, admire them from a distance and try not to feed them. Foxes are wild animals and human food is loaded with chemicals and things that can be bad for them.