You may recognise the red fox, but what about the kit or swift fox? Find out all about these cat-like carnivores with these bite-sized facts
1. They have magnetic powers
Like a hidden superpower, foxes are tuned in to the Earth’s magnetic field. Many other animals use a magnetic sense to orientate them during migration, but the fox is the only known animal to use it for hunting.
2. Foxes could be the oldest canine in the world
The oldest known Vulpes fossil we have to date is from Vulpes riffautae. It is now extinct, but as the fossil is around seven million years old, it is highly likely to be the earliest Canidae.
3. Foxes change fur with the seasons
To help them blend into their environment, many species’ fur colour changes with the season. Arctic foxes are white in the winter and grey in the summer, for example. It helps the fox camouflage to stay hidden and lowers the risk of predation.
4. They team up with brown bears
Tibetan sand foxes sometimes work with bears to catch prey, particularly when hunting pikas. The bears dig out their dens, while the foxes make a grab for the pikas as they run from the bears.
5. Although they are carnivores, they will eat jam sandwiches
Foxes will eat almost anything, despite being considered primarily as carnivores. From small mammals and insects, to birds and jam sandwiches, they are the ultimate opportunistic eater.
6. They’ve got whiskers on their ankles
Foxes have whiskers, like cats and dogs do, but a fox’s whiskers are longer than a dog’s and more closely resemble those of cats. They also have whiskers around their ankles, which act as feelers. This extra sense helps the fox navigate through burrows in the dark.
7. Most wild foxes do not see their third birthday
A fox’s life expectancy is around ten years, but in the wild they rarely make it past three years of age due to hunting and environmental pressures such as disease.
8. Kit foxes don’t drink water
Like many desert animals, the kit fox is able to survive without drinking water and acquires what it needs from prey alone. They are mostly carnivorous but if food is scarce, kit foxes have been known to nibble on the local produce, eating tomatoes and cactus fruits.
9. Foxes use public toilets
Some foxes such as kit foxes, swift foxes and Arctic foxes defecate in latrines. For foxes this is a hole dug in the ground for other local foxes to do their business in. It really is a mark of how intelligent these animals are when you think about it. Humans started using toilets to keep the street clean and to reduce the spread of disease, and animals like foxes use communal latrines for the same purpose. Not all foxes do this and species that are susceptible to predation avoid visiting latrines. It can make them more vulnerable, as predators on the lookout will know where to find them as they can see where they have been from their faeces and can follow the scent of their urine to track them down.
10. There’s no such thing as an urban fox
We hear about urban foxes all the time; however they aren’t a separate species. It is just the name given to a fox that visits urban areas from time to time and most of these animals also spend time in rural settings. It is probably more accurate to call them suburban foxes, but it’s not as catchy.
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