Foxes look like no other animal in the animal kingdom. Their sleek and colorful fur and powerful muscular power to give them the appearance of an imposing and highly-trained predator. They are native to North America, although they are now widely found in many parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. It is estimated that there are upwards of twenty to thirty different species of foxes scattered throughout most of the world. They live in different habitats and prey on various types of animals, including small rodents, birds, insects, and birds, as well as other large fish, rodents, and even other rabbits and squirrels.
One of the most popular of the common foxes across most of the world is the red fox. Native to central Canada and the northern United States, the red fox is a tailless, sled-like predator that usually weighs around thirty pounds in full maturity. They are typically grayish-white with darker colored fur and a white undercoat. The ears of a red fox can be red or brown, but most of their head fur is reddish or orange. Red foxes are smaller to medium sized, semi-dormant omnivores, belonging to many different genera of the animal family Canidae.
Two other common fox species are the grey fox and the white-tailed fox. Both of these species belong to the same genera as the red fox, but differ in size and structure, especially in the case of their tails. Grey foxes are typically one inch long (including the pups) while grey foxes have longer pups, up to three feet in length. They have blackish hair, and their snouts may appear as a distinct box with a slot at the top. They have sharp teeth and a short tail.
White-tailed foxes (also known as mountain foxes or snow foxes) are slightly larger than grey foxes; they are more robust and better able to take care of their young. They have shorter pups and are generally less aggressive than their more docile grey and red counterparts. They have gray fur and can be identified by their bushy tail and white stripes along their backs. Pups have pinkish fur and are generally aggressive or protective of their parents. They are also known to eat crabs, small rodents and birds.
Foxes belong to the canidae family of mammals, which are small, adapted to life on the land. A number of other related and species are also found in the genus Canidae, such as the leopard cat, jackal, golden jackal, lynx, snow fox, snowy white cat and the giant cat. Although all these canids are members of the same genus, they differ in appearance and behavior, and are distinguishable by certain physical and behavioral characteristics. Most foxes live in the northern hemisphere with the exception of the arctic fox which lives in the southern hemisphere. Virtually all large sized foxes live in forests; although a few inhabit deserts and grasslands.
Among all North American species of foxes, coyotes and red foxes are considered the most endangered. Though they have population increases in some areas, they are severely threatened in other regions. Coyotes have experienced a population increase in urbanized areas in recent years, and experts believe this urbanization is one of the main reasons for the decline of coyotes in parts of their former range. On the other hand, red foxes have experienced a marked decline in their natural numbers, mostly due to loss of their prey base. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the reproduction of red foxes, but this still leaves them vulnerable to extermination in the near future.