Although it can have several color variations, the red fox takes its name from its most common color phase: a rusty-red or reddish-yellow coat from its face down its back and sides. Its undersides, throat area, and cheeks are white. The legs, feet, and outside of the ears are black; its long, bushy tail has black hairs mixed with the red and ends in a white tip. This feature can be used to help identify it; the gray fox’s tail has a black tip. The tail of the red fox is usually between 14 and 16 inches long.
In the fall, it’s normal for adult foxes to hunt and remain active during the daytime. From late mid-May through July, juvenile foxes will be active during the day and even be seen hanging out or playing in yards, on porches, or about anywhere in the neighborhood.Sometimes, young wild animals will approach domestic pets or possibly even a child out of curiosity or see if the ‘other being’ might like to play. Fawns will play with dogs in people’s backyards, a juvenile fox will play with almost any other young animal who will play with them, and so on.
Sometimes young foxes are reported to be on front porches and do not readily run away when approached. Those foxes were likely raised nearby and do not know to be fearful of humans yet. We recommend hazing them to teach them from a young age to move away from humans.
However, if you see a fox actually approaching people, he may be ill. There are a number of parasites and diseases that may lead to the neurologic changes to cause a wild fox to lose its fear of or even approach humans or other animals it would not normally get near.
Most common are:
- Severe mange
- High worm or tick loads
- Eosinophilic meningoencephalitis (a type of progressive brain disease that occurs occasionally in foxes who seem to be more susceptible to the toxic effects of worm infestations such as baylisascaris roundworm; encephalopathy can mimic rabies, distemper or head trauma).
All of these are problems that, on the outside, may not be obvious, but behavior changes occur and some of those changes result in abnormal or atypical behavior.
As with other types of wild animals, please avoid intentionally feeding foxes and make sure that other unintentional food sources are cleaned up or secured. For more information view our Animal Feeding information page.