How Long Do Foxes Live? Reasons Why Their Lifespan Is So Short | Kidadl


How Long Do Foxes Live? Reasons Why Their Lifespan Is So Short

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Foxes are omnivorous animals that belong to the Canidae family which includes several other animals such as wolves, dogs, and coyotes.

Foxes are found all over the world including North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe and call all these different terrains their home. However, foxes in the wild do not live for a very long time in general.

There are various fox species such as red foxes, Arctic foxes, Tibetan foxes, and fennec foxes. Although foxes are usually regarded as wild animals, they are quite sociable and many fox species that live in suburban areas and on farms are in constant contact with humans. Foxes are quite light, and on average, most foxes are the same size as that of an average dog. At times, foxes can be spotted near homes during the day, but there is no reason to panic unless the fox exhibits unnatural behavior, like a rabid fox. Foxes usually move towards urban areas only when their dens in the natural habitat are destroyed due to some reason or other. A fox's lifespan greatly depends on where the fox lives its life as if it is a wild fox, then it will have a significantly shorter lifespan than that of a domesticated fox. This is primarily because wild foxes live under challenging conditions, whereas urban foxes or pet foxes have a comparatively easier life because pet foxes live similar to domestic dogs.

How long do red foxes live?

Red foxes are the most common fox species. They are generally found in urban areas and have been living in close contact with human beings and other animals living in the suburbs. The red fox tends to live in wooded lots, on farms, or in open fields, and they choose to move to a den only during the mating season to raise fox clubs. The red fox has a peculiar habit of marking the entry of its den by rubbing off the scent of its tail. Dens have multiple entry and exits for emergency situations.

There is a significant difference in the average lifespan of red foxes when they live in the wild and when they live in captivity. A red fox, like other species, has a very high mortality rate in its first year as it is vulnerable to attacks by predators since it is small prey. At the same time, like all other foxes, a baby red fox is born blind and remains so for the first two weeks. In the wild, a red fox has an average lifespan of three to four years, whereas in captivity, a red fox lives up to 14 years. It is also observed that red foxes can have a lifespan of 33 years in captivity. Due to the abundance of food and no life threat from other predators, red foxes live a long life in urban areas. Some unique body features of a red fox include a bushy tail, triangle shaped ears, a sharp nose, and most importantly, the tip of its tail is always white. Red foxes that live in rural areas eat more meat than the foxes that live in urban areas. Half of the diet of urban red foxes comprises household waste, and as a result of a strong digestive system of these red foxes, these animals do not fall ill consuming such waste. Most of these small mammals die due to accidents. Male foxes and fox cubs have a tendency to roam around and explore unlike female foxes. There are always some fox cubs who remain with their social group or their family group their whole life, and they are at a lower risk of dying than the ones that roam around.

How long do foxes live as pets?

Recently, some people have started adopting foxes as pets, especially fennec foxes and red foxes. Although fennec foxes are quite small and cute, it is advised that they are left to live in their natural habitat as they can get aggressive sometimes. People can offer food to them, especially to baby foxes. They can now be commonly sighted in urban areas in North America.

It has been recorded that foxes living as domestic animals in captivity have a longer lifespan than the foxes living in the wild due to several reasons. Foxes are considered as small animals in jungles and are placed quite low on the food chain as they are a source of food for other wildlife animals such as wolves, lions, and tigers. When these foxes live in captivity, they are not threatened by any other animals and have an abundant supply of food as well. Particularly, near farmlands and in the suburbs of a city, this animal can hunt other small pets or animals such as guinea pigs, birds, rabbits, small cats and mice as it is essential for foxes to consume a considerable amount of fresh meat. The rest of its diet composes of leftovers thrown away by people which this animal consumes without a hiccup as it is technically an omnivore. Although in most of the states in the United States it is illegal to have a pet fox, there are certain states where it is still legal to have a fox as a pet animal but people need to acquire a permit for it.

Pretty fox trespassing fence.

How long do urban foxes live?

All kinds of foxes belong to the Canidae family along with dogs, wolves and several other animal species but there are several species of foxes, largely differing on the basis of how urbanized they are. For instance, the gray fox and the red fox are both found in urban areas but the former isn't as urbanized as the latter, and prefers living in relatively isolated areas.

When it comes to the average lifespan of a gray fox and a red fox, there isn't a lot of difference. When these two animals live in urban areas or in captivity, they can live up to 14 or 15 years, but in the wild, they have an average lifespan of three to six years. This is largely because in urban areas, there is much more food available because humans throw a lot away and other animals do not hunt them. Unlike red foxes, gray foxes live in areas which are considered urban but do not have a lot of human population such as swampy areas or near thick woodlands. Although gray foxes are smaller in size than red foxes, they are much more aggressive than red foxes and can even take the attack to them if necessary.

Gray foxes perform an important function of eliminating rodents, indirectly helping in disease control. At the same time, gray foxes are considered to be excellent climbers, and they use this trait to escape from a wild animal which might be a potential threat. You can find dens of a gray fox high up in hollow trees. A gray fox usually uses the abandoned nest of a hawk as its den. Eggs, meat, and fruit such as peaches, apples, and grapes largely comprise the diet of a gray fox. These urban foxes have their breeding season from the months of December to February. Females become sexually mature when they are around 10 months old, and they experience a gestation period of 53 days following which they give birth to their young ones. Fox cubs are born deaf, blind and without any fur on their bodies. It takes them around three weeks time to become active, and by the time they are three months old, they go out on hunts with the other foxes.

Why do foxes live so short?

The fact that foxes have a short lifespan is only applicable when these animals live in the wild. When a fox lives in captivity, it has more than double the lifespan it has in wild. The primary reason behind this is the challenges that living in the wild possess.

A fox that lives deep in the jungle has an average lifespan of two to six years, whereas a fox that lives in urban areas can live up to 14 years. Factors such as starvation due to shortage of food, natural disasters such as flooding, and the constant threat from other wild animals all reduce the lifespan of a fox in the wild. 50% of fox cubs never make it past their first year of life. This is because as fox cubs cannot open their eyes for the first couple of weeks. They become primary targets of various carnivorous animals. As soon as the adult females or the males leave the den, animals such as wolves, or hyenas eat the baby foxes. Another reason as to why baby foxes do not live as long is when the parents relocate their dens to escape from attacks, at times they have to make multiple trips to take their cubs from one den to the other. This is when other animals spot their chance of finding the cubs alone and attack them. Even if a fox manages to live the first couple of years of its life, factors such as a shortage of food and threat from larger wild animals are always a danger. On top of that, bacterial infections and other diseases are common in the wild which eventually lead to the death of foxes by the time they are seven to eight years old.

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Aryan Khanna

<p>A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.</p>

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