In this course, the learner will examine the care and rehabilitation of the red fox. The learner will be introduced to the behaviour foxes show, as well as the ecology, habitats and breeding of foxes. The course also discusses how foxes breed, the Legislation surrounding them and rehabilitation back to the wild. Learners will also look at some of the challenges faced by foxes in terms of hunting and disease.
Fox Welfare Course
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is an adaptable mammal of the dog family which can be found throughout Britain. Due to persecution and accidental harm foxes can sometimes need rescuing, care and rehabilitation.
This one unit course will provide learners with an understanding of the red fox in Britain.
The ecology, behaviour, life cycle and the habitats of the fox in Britain will be explored. Legislation affecting foxes and aspects of health and safety will be detailed within the course. Learners will understand methods of safe capture, care and rehabilitation of red foxes and reasons why wild foxes may need human intervention. The course is suitable for those within the animal care profession seeking continual professional development.
Fox Care and welfare
Red foxes can be identified by their long heads, triangular upright ears, bushy tail and coat colour usually of fox red with a white chin, belly and tail tip with black at the backs of their ears and black feet.
The head and body length is 60- 90 cm and the tail is 35- 50 cm. Most red foxes weigh between 4- 10 kg.
They have an average lifespan of 2- 4 years. It can be difficult to identify males and females when out in the wild however, the dog fox tends to be about a fifth heavier than a vixen and have a broader head. During the breeding seasons the male’s testes may be more easily visible.
When the vixen is lactating the fur on her stomach is red rather than the usual white and also her teats are more visible.
Fox Welfare and Rehabilitation
Until recently, the red fox was considered a solitary animal other than during the breeding season. However, although red foxes do hunt alone, they also, in certain situations, form social groups. The social group can consist of 3- 4 adults, consisting of both dog foxes and vixens. One group in Bristol was recorded to consist of 10 adult foxes. Within these groups the dominant male and female fox form a pair.
The pair will travel, hunt and feed alone and then meet for varying periods of time in order to groom and play. Usually only one vixen in the group will breed, typically the dominant vixen, however, sometimes other vixens will also breed. Cubs are often reared separately but can be pooled together in one large family litter. Often the other foxes in the group are the offspring of the dominant pair which have remained with their parents past the normal stage of when a fox family usually disperses. These foxes are known as helpers and will help to rear their parents next litter. Because of their social nature foxes have developed ways of communicating through vocalisations and body language.
How successful a red fox release is can depend on many factors. Ideally, red foxes released back into the wild should be monitored to see how successful the rehabilitation and release has been.
There are many dangers in the wild for red foxes and some rescued individuals may never be suitable for survival in the wild instead needing to remain in captivity. There are, however, methods in place to improve the chance of a fox surviving in the wild, such as the soft release method.