Foxes. Always related to being cunning, sly and intelligent in folklore. In many children’s stories, the fox will appear as a scavenger, not quite evil but not being a good character, either.
Their abundance around the whole world has added to them being hunted or captured to keep as pets—not only when it comes to the well-known red fox, but also other more unusual species. Sadly, in some countries, such as Canada, Ireland, Italy, Russia or the US, fox hunting is actually viewed as a sport.
When it comes to different species, there are twelve species considered “true” fox species, in addition to other 25 current or extinct ones that are sometimes called foxes, too. They all have their own particular little details, so here you have a list with 5 of them and their peculiarities.
5. Red Fox
The red fox is probably the most common and famous one when it comes to foxes. With its reddish fur—white on its chest—, bushy tail tipped in white, black legs and black, pointy ears, that’s the standard image of a fox we have in our minds. They can be found in most of the United States and Canada, and also in Europe and Asia. They mate from January to March, and stand out for their extreme care for their kits. Mostly nocturnal, red foxes are omnivores and eat fruits, birds and sometimes even garbage when they’re near a city.
4. Sand Fox
This next species has quite an interesting face. A box-shaped head with small, squinting eyes and a thick, greyish fur, sand foxes can be found in the highlands and steppes of Nepal and Tibet. Their diet is mainly composed of pikas, but they will also eat rabbits, birds or insects. In comparison to other fox species, the Tibetan Sand Fox stalks its prey in a somewhat special manner, too. It keeps its head stiff and up high while moving its body towards the victim. As a fun fact, Tibetan Sand Foxes had never been caught on film until 2006, when the BBC filmed their Planet Earth series.
3. Bat-eared Fox
We can find this species in Africa, and it’s known for its big ears, which can be up to 13cm tall. They serve as a means of keeping the fox cool and give them an exceptionally good sense of hearing. Unlike to other fox species, these wild dogs are often found in groups of 2-5, occupying the same part of short-grass savannah. Their favourite food is harvester termites, which they lick up from the ground. In addition, they have more teeth than their other foxy relatives.
2. Fennec Fox
They’re the smallest of all them foxes, and their ears are even a little bigger than the bat-eared foxes’ ones. They serve the same purpose, however—to keep the small animal cool—, since fennec foxes are found in the desert. They have thick, sand-coloured fur that protects them during cold nights, and even their small feet have hair that will shield them from the extremely hot sand. Also omnivores, they usually eat plants, but will also eat rodents, eggs and insects. Like most desert-dwellers, they can go long periods without water.
1. Arctic Fox
Like their name says, these foxes live in the frigid Arctic, withstanding temperatures of minus 50ºC. They almost look like small wolves—what with being a wild dog and all—, possessing a beautiful white coat that serves a very effective camouflage during winter. Said fur can be blue-gray sometimes, too. When the seasons change, so does the fur, turning into a brown that will merge with the tundra’s rocks and plants. Their bushy tail not only serves for balance, like a cat’s, but it’ll also provide a nice warm cover in the cold. They usually hunt rodents and birds, sometimes even fish. During winter, they’ll also follow polar bears and then eat the leftovers from their kills.
So much for this quick guide on foxes you didn’t know you needed. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and if this sparked your interest on following the life of a red fox in the Spanish wilderness, maybe you want to tune in to Wild Spain, premiering in November on NatGeo!