Often viewed as a pest, the witty red fox can be found all over Northern Ireland, in both rural and urban environments. They are omnivorous, and will eat just about anything including small mammals, birds, frogs, earthworms, berries and fruits, as well as scavenging in bins in urban areas. When we think of foxes we think of sly and clever animals which are solitary, often outwitting humans, when it comes to removing them as a pest or protecting chickens! Thus, the saying ‘sly as a fox!’
Red foxes live in a burrow system called an ‘earth’ or referred to as a den. They scent mark their territorial borders with urine, which creates a very strong, recognisable odour. They also have scent glands on their feet, to mark well-used trails which enable them to follow them in the dark.
Pictured here is a young fox from this year. Fox cubs are normally born in March/April in dens. Foxes only live for two to three years, and therefore grow rapidly. Foxes are in the same family as dogs and communicate in a similar fashion using bark calls. In winter vixens (female foxes) can be heard screaming for other foxes, which is a very distinctive noise.
Photos courtesy of Viscount Brookeborough.