Red Fox

From Ohio History Central


Scientific Name: Vulpes vulpes
Habitat: Farm lands with woodlots and brushy fields and nearby water such as a marsh.
Adult Weight: 8 - 15 lbs.
Adult Body Length: 22 - 25 inches; tail length: 14 - 16 inches
Breeding Period: January - February
Litters Per Year: 1
Litter Size: 4 - 9, average 4 - 6
Life Expectancy: 6 - 8 years, maximum 12 years
Foods: Omnivore- Mostly mice, rats, rabbits, and other small mammals; birds, reptiles, amphibians, eggs, insects, and fruits.


The Red Fox is dog-like, with a red or yellowish-red coat and bushy, white-tipped tail. Its feet and back of its ears are black, while its stomach, throat and cheeks are white. They are very curious and active. When hunting, the fox will stalk its prey then pounce on it, often throwing it up in the air and catching it, before feeding. The fox has been known to do "surplus killing," killing more than it can eat, but burying (caching) the extra and eating it later.



Archaeological evidence of Red Fox have been found in the northern Great Lakes region, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. There is also a reported uncommon occurrence in southwestern Ohio.


For centuries, the fox has played an important part in fables, myths and legends around the world. Many say that the fox is able to change into a human form and cause mischief. Other stories claim that the helped to create the world or protect families.


Red Fox were not common in Ohio until settlement. As settlers cut down trees to make room for farms, they created habitat suitable for the Red Fox. At the same time, this removed the forest habitat of the gray fox.

Nineteenth Century

Dating all the way back to 400 BC, fox hunting was very popular in England in the 1800s and was introduced to the American colonies very early. A wild Red Fox would be chased by hound dogs and followed by hunters on horseback until it was cornered and killed. Often such hunts, especially in Europe, provided recreation for the wealthy. The hunts were also of interest to others who sought the fox for its pelt, or those who considered the fox a potential threat to chickens around their farms. Since the Red Fox is a creature of semi-open lands and farmlands, they were uncommon in the heavily forested areas of the eastern United States. For that reason, they were often brought here from England and introduced to the wild – even though they were already native to many parts of Alaska, Canada, and the United States.

Twentieth Century

Although the Red Fox began to expand its range in the nineteenth century, the Red Fox disappeared from the Lake Plains area around Toledo by 1900. The sandy soil with little food, made it difficult for many animals to live there. However, with the stabilizing of the marsh lands and prey populations, the Red Fox returned to the area in 1935 and have become common.

Today Red Fox can be found throughout the state but is more common in western and northern Ohio. They are uncommon in the hilly, southeastern area of the state. It is legal to hunt and trap fox throughout Ohio. Check with the Ohio Division of Wildlife for current legal seasons, bag limits, and methods of hunting or trapping.

See Also