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The Nature of Things

The ever-playful and popular Vulpes vulpes came out from her den earlier this year to talk to the DLC’s Karissa Stokdal about her new pups and why the red fox doesn’t make for a good house pet, despite their looks.

Please introduce and describe yourself.

Hi, I’m Ruby and I’m a Vulpes vulpes, but you probably know me as a red fox. My distinct reddish fur has given me my common name, but I also almost always have a white belly and dark paws. My ears are pointed and I have a long snout. Some people say I look like a dog. We both come from the Canidae family but, trust me, I’d make a terrible house pet.

Really? Why terrible? You look so cute…

Even if I were raised by humans, I’m still a wild animal. I like to dig, explore and chew on things. Your garden and belongings will not go unscathed if you keep me in captivity. I have a ton of energy and actively mark my territory. I can be very aggressive toward strangers and could also mistake your smaller pets for a snack.

A snack?! Gracious… What do you like to eat?

I’m a magnificent hunter! Raw meats and animal bone are very important to my diet. Most people think I’m a carnivore, but I actually do enjoy an occasional fruit or vegetable. Taurine is a key component to my diet; without it I could go blind, have seizures or even die. Lately, my mate has been doing all of the hunting, as I’ve been taking care of our new pups.

So, you’re a new mom?

I just had my first litter of five kits! They’ll stay in the den for now, but in about a month they’ll start playing outside. Eventually, I’ll bring them live prey, so they learn to hunt. In about eight months, they’ll head out on their own. Some of them will travel more than 150 miles in search of a new territory to call home. My mate and I will go our separate ways, but I’ll find someone new next winter.

Where do you call home?

Currently, I’m settled into a 15-mile territory in Pine Plains. As a species, we thrive in mixed landscape areas and prefer a blend of woodlands and farmland for hunting and making our dens. Thanks to land protection, many areas of Dutchess County are an ideal habitat!


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