Red foxes may breed in male/female pairs or in groups with one breeding male and multiple females. Females in the same group may share a den and help each other raise their young.
Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous ; cooperative breeder
Breeding season varies from region to region but usually begins in December or January in the south, January to February in the central regions, and February to April in the north. Females are pregnant usually for 51 to 53 days and give birth to about 5 pups, although some litters have been as large as 13 pups! Just before and for a time after giving birth the female remains in or around the den. The male will give his mate food but does not go into the maternity den. Young red foxes are between 50 and 150 g in weight when they are born. The pups are born blind but open their eyes 9 to 14 days after birth. Pups leave the den 4 or 5 weeks after birth and are fully weaned by 8 to 10 weeks. Mothers and pups remain together until the autumn after birth. Red foxes are fully grown by 10 months old.
Breeding interval: Red foxes breed once yearly.
Breeding season: Breeding season varies from region to region but usually begins in December or January in the south, January to February in the central regions, and February to April in the north.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 9.
Average number of offspring: 4.59.
Range gestation period: 49 to 55 days.
Range weaning age: 56 to 70 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 10.0 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 10.0 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 100 g.
Average number of offspring: 5.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 304 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 304 days.
Red fox males and females, and sometimes their older offspring, cooperate to care for the pups. Young remain in the den for 4 to 5 weeks, where they are cared for and nursed by their mother. They are nursed for 56 to 70 days and are provided with solid food by their parents and older siblings. The young remain with their parents at least until the fall of the year they were born in and will sometimes remain longer, especially females.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning
- MacDonald, D., J. Reynolds. 2005. "Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)" (On-line). IUCN Canid Specialist Group. Accessed September 27, 2007 at http://www.canids.org/species/Vulpes_vulpes.htm.
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