Breeding & Offspring

Red Fox Pup

Both the red and gray fox breed mid January to late February and use a den during this time. The den is a hole in the earth, 15 to 20 feet long, usually on the side of a knoll. It may have several entrances. Sometimes foxes dig their own dens. More often, though, they appropriate and enlarge the home sites of small burrowing animals, such as woodchucks. 

The young, called kits, are born after a gestation of 53 days. One litter is born each year. A litter of four kits is common. The young leave the den for the first time a month later. The mother gradually weans them, and at 3 months old, the kits are learning to hunt. 

Foxes are quite vocal, having a large repertoire of howls, barks, and whines. The family unit endures until autumn, at which time it breaks up and each animal becomes independent.

Habitat

The red fox and gray fox are common and abundant in Massachusetts and can be found throughout the state, except Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

The fox prefers a varied landscape. It thrives in areas where different habitats blend including forests, fields, orchards and brush lands. Foxes will most often use the transition areas between these habitat types.

Foxes are members of the dog family Canidae, and their general appearance is similar to domestic dogs and coyotes.

Food

Both the red fox and gray fox are omnivorous. They are opportunistic feeders and their primary foods include small rodents, squirrels, rabbits, birds, eggs, insects, vegetation, fruit and carrion. Foxes cache excess food when the hunting/foraging is good. They return to these storage sites and have been observed digging up a cache, inspecting it, and reburying it in the same spot.

Habits

Foxes are usually shy and wary but they are also curious. Activity is variable; they can be active night or day and sightings at dusk or dawn are common. They remain active all year and do not hibernate. Foxes actively maintain territories. These areas may vary from 2 to 7 square miles.