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Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens

AG Säugetierkunde in NRW

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Red fox

Rote Liste NRW: u Ungefährdet

Vulpes vulpes




Foto: Heinz Immekus
The Red Fox is a mostly crepuscular and nocturnal dietary generalist. Depending on the location, time of the year, and occurrence its bill of fare includes earthworms, insects, small mammals, birds, in the case of ground-nesting birds also their clutches, carrion, garbage, domestic fowl and domestic animal food as well as wind-fallen fruit and other fruits.
Among the causes of loss, hunting is numerically the most important. Added to this are road kills; locally at high densities are diseases like canine distemper and mange (Sarcoptes-Mite, ecotoparasite). Next to martens the fox is considered a reservoir for canine distemper. These infections have replaced rabies as a regulatory factor of fox populations with high density. Through oral immunization (oral vaccination) with distributed bait from the end of 1980s to the beginning of the first decade of the 21st century sylvatic rabies was provisionally eradicated. The last case in a fox in NRW dates from the year 2001. Nevertheless, the feeding of city and garden foxes should be avoided. Special restraint towards such foxes is also recommended to prevent infection with fox tapeworms.
Predominantly in March 3 to 7 cubs are born. During the raising of young foxes display a strong tie to the burrow. They occupy self-constructed or badger burrows preferably in the vicinity of forests and with southerly exposure. Maternity burrows can be abandoned after a few weeks. Stables, straw stacks, wood piles and concrete culverts and near settlements also abandoned lots serve as hiding places. During dry weather and in quiet locations foxes also sleep outside of their burrow during the day.
At the age of 4 weeks the young appear in front of their burrows and are then also active during the day. At 3 to 4 months they start their own independent forays and leave their place of birth. The family bond is than dissolved. The role of the male fox is in need of clarification. Of the mid-sized carnivores in NRW the Red Fox is the most widely distributed and most common species. Foxes increasingly occur in human settlements and there in some places in higher densities (and different social structures?) then in forest and open land habitats. As far as it can be reconstructed from current and earlier records, since the middle of the 1980s the state-wide population fluctuates around a historically highest level. This can be more easily gauged by the increasing number of foxes killed in road traffic then by the number of hunted foxes. Hunting activities are always interest-driven and of changing intensity. According to studies of (hunted) female foxes on pregnancy rates and on the number of embryos a biological self-regulation has apparently not yet been triggered in the fox populations at this high density in NRW.


Jürgen Eylert


Eylert J (2023): Rotfuchs (Vulpes vulpes).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/27



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