Buster Pawsey – Red Fox

Buster Pawsey is a female Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) born in early 2013. Fish and Wildlife brought her to the Foundation after she was illegally owned. Since the red fox is an invasive species, she cannot be released back into the wild. She will remain at the Foundation with her companion Luna and be an ambassador to her species.

Even though red foxes are assumed to have red fur due to their name, there are actually three color variations: red, silver, and black. The red fox’s ears are sensitive enough to hear prey from a distance, as well as, help dissipate heat from their bodies, similar to the fennec fox. Red foxes are omnivorous, with their diet spanning from small rodents, rabbits, birds, and insects to plants, berries, and tree fruits. They usually hunt before sunrise and in the late evening hours, and typically hunt alone though several foxes may gather in resource-rich locations.

Red foxes are widely scattered across the globe among the northern hemisphere. They were introduced to North America to be hunted for sport. Their habitat is diverse, from forests and grasslands, to mountains and deserts, and even can live in urbanized areas. The red fox is an invasive species, a species not native to the specific location, which has a tendency to dominate the other species in the area by depriving their habitat of resources. Red foxes are commonly found in the same territories as gray foxes, the coloring on the end of their tails is a way to distinguish between the two. The red fox will have a white-tipped tail while the gray fox has a black-tipped tail.

Though most red foxes live in the open in dense vegetation, they can stay in burrows to escape bad weather. Burrows are typically in a hillside, a ravine, or along steep banks, generally in well-drained areas.

For the red fox, mating season occurs from December through February, and birthing occurs approximately two months later. Kits, young foxes, are born only once per year, and the number of offspring is dependent upon the mortality rate of foxes in that area. Kits stay within the den for three to four weeks then start to wean from their mothers toward solid food. They are fully grown by six to seven months and vixens, female foxes, can reach sexual maturity at nine to ten months and give birth at one year of age.

In the state of California, it is illegal to possess a red fox unless you are a licensed facility.

Red Fox Trivia: The red fox’s tail is also known as a “brush”.

Red Fox Statistics:

Body Size 16 – 33 inches long, 14 – 20 inches tall
Weight 5 – 31 lbs
Gestation Period 49 – 58 days
Litter Size 4 – 6 kits
Life Span 2 – 4 years in wild, up to 10 years in captivity