Red Fox

Coastal Habitats Project: Introduced Species


Scientific name: Vulpes vulpes

Red foxes live around the world in many habitats including forests, grasslands, mountains, and deserts. They also adapt well to human environments such as farms, suburban areas, and even large communities. The red fox's resourcefulness has earned it a reputation for intelligence and cunning.

When was the Red Fox first introduced into Australia?

The European red fox was first let loose in the Geelong area near Melbourne in 1845. It was given time to breed, which it did productively with no natural predators on the land, and fox hunting started within 20 years.

Why was the Red Fox introduced?

Foxes were introduced into Australia for the purpose of fox hunting. Australia's origins were British, a country where fox hunting had been around for hundreds of years, but the only "sport" that hunters could shoot were dingoes and kangaroos. Bringing foxes to the new country allowed them to still enjoy their sport of fox hunting.

What adaptations does the red fox have to have to survive?

The red fox has sharp claws that help dig their dens and to bury their food; these claws also help to kill their prey. Red Foxes have sharp teeth which help them to shred and slash their food, meat or plants since they are omnivores. Their long legs are good for running quickly while chasing prey. When being chased the red fox will vomit so that they can run faster. By vomiting they empty their stomachs which make them lighter and more active. They have a very good sense of hearing, smell, and sight, which warns them if danger is coming.

Where is the Red Fox found in Victoria?

Red Foxes in habbit large areas of Victoria, and pose a huge threat to native animals, Red Foxes can addapt to any environment

What is the effect that the Red Fox has on the Victorian Coastal Landscape?

The red fox may be the most destructive species ever introduced to Australia. For a start, it carries most of the blame for Australia’s record of recent mammal extinctions, The fox is also a significant pest to farming, mainly through preying on lambs and chickens. It can spread disease to domestic animals, and would be a carrier of rabies if that disease ever got into Australia. The combined environmental and farming impacts of foxes, and the effort used on attempts to reduce that impact, probably costs Australia more than $200 million each year.

What Control techniques have been tried to manage or exterminate the species?

Reducing the impact of the red fox relies on a mixture of control techniques which consists of poison baiting, shooting, trapping, and fencing. All these techniques have a short term effect on local fox numbers. No single control method will be successful on its own and when foxes are removed from an area, reinvasion or immigration from existing untreated areas generally occurs within 2 to 6 weeks.

Top facts!

  • The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, and has the widest distribution of any member of the order Carnivora.

  • Red foxes can produce 28 different vocalisations.

  • The male red fox is referred to as a dog, while the female is known as a vixen.

  • The red fox’s tail is known as a brush, and can be used by the fox as a warm cover in cold weather.

By Kaitlin Dicesare