University of Maryland Extension

Foxes

fox

One often thinks of foxes as being rural animals but they have adapted very well to suburban and even urban conditions. It is common to see foxes hunting around city streets and yards for rodents. There are two species of foxes that live in Maryland: the red fox, and the gray fox. Both resemble small dogs. The red fox is about 36 to 40 inches long and weighs 10 to 15 pounds. The gray fox is about 32 to 45 inches long and weighs 7 to 13 pounds. Foxes are basically solitary animals except for the breeding season in winter through mid-summer when mates and their young stay together. Foxes are most active in the evening and very early morning but are often seen out during daylight. Red foxes will either dig their own burrows or use an abandoned groundhog burrow for a nesting den. The gray fox usually makes its den in hollow trees, logs or brush piles. Unusual noises at night can often be explained by the foxes wide variety of vocal calls, including barks, screams, howls, yaps, growls or sounds similar to a hiccup. The high-pitched scream can be especially disturbing when heard at night. It often is mistaken for the scream of a person.

Foxes eat rabbits, mice, birds, eggs, insects, reptiles, fruit, and occasionally carrion. At times foxes will also attack and eat ducks, chickens and small animals that may be kept as pets. Precautions should be taken to prevent the foxes' access to these animals. Typically, foxes are not a problem for home gardeners. However, some homeowners may feel uncomfortable with foxes around their homes. In reality, most foxes pose little hazard to humans, as long as you leave them alone. In order to help control foxes around suburban areas a homeowner should eliminate all food sources outside. This includes cat and dog food, bird feeders, exposed trashcans, and even compost piles. Compost piles and bird feeders attract small mammals and birds, which in turn, attract foxes. Trapping foxes is usually not effective due to the reluctance of foxes to enter traps. Foxes will also den under decks and sheds. Foxes are fur-bearing animals and are provided some protection by the Dept. of Natural Resources. If trapping is desired a Maryland Department of Natural Resources permit may be necessary.

Photo Gallery

fox cub
Foxes are basically solitary animals except for the
breeding season in winter through mid-summer
when mates and their young stay together
fox den
Red foxes will either dig their own burrows, or use
an abandoned groundhog burrow for a nesting den
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