Vulpes vulpes

Last updated: November 11, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Shiretoko-Shari Tourist Association - Public Domain

There are 12 different species in the world!

Fox Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Vulpes vulpes

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Fox Conservation Status

Fox Facts

Main Prey
Rabbits, Birds, Lizards
Distinctive Feature
Pointed ears and long bushy tail
Woodland areas and urban parks
Human, Bears, Eagles
Average Litter Size
  • Solitary
Favorite Food
There are 12 different species in the world!

Fox Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Red
  • Black
  • Tan
Skin Type
Top Speed
29 mph
3 - 11 years
5kg - 11kg (11lbs - 24lbs)
40cm - 83cm (16in - 33in)

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View all of the Fox images!

The fox is a scavenger carnivores animal, generally found in urban city areas in the Northern Hemisphere. As a nocturnal animal, foxes prefer going out at night to hunt for prey.

One Amazing Animal: 3 Fox Facts

  • Adapted for snow: Foxes live in environments where the animals they hunt have adapted for snow, so the fox has its own winter adaptations! For example, a fox can jump 3 feet into the air to catch a mouse at a snow depth of more than 3 feet, even if the mouse is moving! Foxes know how to determine a mouse’s speed and trajectory so they land on exactly the right spot of snow.
  • A long-distance animal: An Arctic fox fitted with a tracking device traveled 2,175 miles from Norway to Canada in just 76 days’ time!
  • A creative solution for rabies: Rabies caused by red foxes was causing a huge problem in Europe into the 60s. How did scientists solve this problem? Well, they got animals to vaccinate themselves. Scientists air-dropped vaccinated chicken heads for wild foxes to eat and helped eliminate the scourge of rabies!

Read about the fox mating season.

From Animal to Vulpes: The Classification of the Fox

Foxes belong to the kingdom Animalia (Animals!) and are mammals. As part of the family Canidae they’re closely related to wolves, racoons, and domesticated dogs!

The genus Vulpes contains 12 different species of fox. The most widespread is the red fox, which has the scientific name Vulpes Vulpes and is found across most of the Northern Hemisphere.

Fox Appearance and Lifespan

Wild foxes tend to live for around 6-7 years, but some foxes have been known to be older than 13 in captivity. The wild fox hunts for the mouse and other small mammals and birds, but foxes appear to enjoy all species of insect.

A fox is generally smaller than other members of the dog family like wolves, jackals and domestic dogs. Foxes can be a pest in the cities as foxes are often seen tearing into rubbish.

12 Different Fox Species

There are around 12 different species of fox found around the world, which include the following:

  • Arctic FoxArctic foxes are found in the Arctic tundra of the Northern Hemisphere. Also known as the polar fox, snow fox, or white fox, this species has adapted to life in colder climates. Their multi-layered coats, furry foot pads, and seasonal camouflage have aided them in surviving in some of the coldest habitats on the planet.
  • Fennec FoxFennec foxes are native to the Sahara Desert, Sinai Peninsula, and the Arabian Desert and have large ears which help dissipate heat from their bodies. The smallest of the fox species, these animals are social creatures that dig burrows in the sand for habitation and protection and live in groups of up to ten individuals.
  • Pale Fox – Pale foxes live in the Sahel region of Africa and have sandy-colored coats that help them blend in with their desert-like habitats. While not much is known about this species, their population size is estimated to be large and relatively stable.
  • Blanford’s Fox – The Blanford’s fox was named after English naturalist William Blanford, who first described them in 1877. Also known as the Afghan fox, royal fox, and dog fox, these animals live in parts of Central Asia and the Middle East in mountains, steppes, and arid plains regions.
  • Cape Fox – Cape foxes are a small species of fox that inhabit Southern Africa. Mostly solitary creatures, these foxes are nocturnal and omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, insects, and fruit.
  • Corsac Fox – The corsac fox lives in deserts and steppes in Central Asia and can go long periods of time without food or water as an adaptation to their environments. These foxes are slow runners and are easily caught by poachers who hunt them for their pelts.
  • Tibetan Sand Fox – Tibetan sand foxes are only found in in the vicinity of the Tibetan and the Ladakh Plateau in semi-arid and arid grasslands up to elevations of 17,000 feet. This species is diurnal, preying on pikas, rodents, marmots, hares, and lizards.
  • Swift Fox – Swift foxes inhabit the western grasslands of North America and feed on both plants and animals. The species was all but extinguished in Canada in the 1930s, but the reintroduction program in the 1980s established successful populations through the 1990s. Swift foxes are now classified as a species of Least Concern.
  • Kit Fox – Kit fox populations range from central Mexico to the southwestern United States. Determined to be the smallest species of fox in North America, kit foxes prefer arid regions and have large ears which help dissipate heat.
  • Ruppell’s Fox – Named after the German naturalist Eduard Ruppell, these foxes can be found in the Middle East, southwestern Asia, and Northern Africa. Their preferred habitats are sandy or rocky deserts, scrublands, or steppes.
  • Bengal Fox – Also known as the Indian fox, Bengal foxes are only found on the Indian subcontinent. These foxes can thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions but prefer grasslands and semi-arid thorn or scrub forests.
  • Red Fox – The red fox is the largest species of fox and inhabits a wide variety of regions in the Northern Hemisphere. While mostly red, these foxes can vary in coloration from reddish brown to platinum.

What Do Foxes Eat?

Foxes have a varied diet that is omnivorous. While they will eat plant material such as berries, fruits, and acorns, most of what foxes eat comes from rodents, rabbits, birds, and amphibians. Foxes are opportunistic eaters that have “canine teeth” which can grip a variety of prey.

To learn more about the foxes’ complete diet, give our complete ‘What Do Foxes Eat‘ guide a read.

Fox Distribution and Habitat

Foxes lives across nearly every major biome on Earth. They live on every continent aside from Antarctica. Fox species can be found in the Arctic (both Arctic foxes and red foxes), in mountains at elevations higher than 3 miles (Tibetan fox), and many other locations. Desert foxes in particular have a number of adaptations that allow them to live in harsh environments.

Fox Conservation Status

Foxes in Europe have been the victims of fox hunting, an extremely controversial sport that involves humans on horses hunting out the fox, lead by a pack of hound dogs which would find the fox by following the scent of the fox. Fox hunting in this manner is now illegal, although it is still allowed if the sport only contains humans on horseback, without the use of their clever but somewhat vicious dogs.

The fox is also found in the more rural areas of the Northern hemisphere, although fox numbers in the countryside are outnumbered by fox numbers in cities as due to the foxes scavenging nature, food is more readily available in the urban streets.

View all 78 animals that start with F

About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Fox FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Foxes herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Foxes are Carnivores, meaning they eat other animals.

What Kingdom do Foxes belong to?

Foxes belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Foxes belong to?

Foxes belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to Foxes belong to?

Foxes belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Foxes belong to?

Foxes belong to the family Canidae.

What order do Foxes belong to?

Foxes belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of covering do Foxes have?

Foxes are covered in Fur.

What genus do Foxes belong to?

Foxes belong to the genus Vulpini.

In what type of habitat do Foxes live?

Foxes live in woodland areas and urban parks.

What is the main prey for Foxes?

Foxes prey on rabbits, birds, and lizards.

What are some predators of Foxes?

Predators of foxes include humans, bears, and eagles.

What are some distinguishing features of Foxes?

Foxes have pointed ears and long bushy tails.

How many babies do Foxes have?

The average number of babies a Fox has is 5.

What is an interesting fact about Foxes?

There are 12 different species of Fox in the world!

What is the scientific name for the Fox?

The scientific name for the Fox is Vulpes vulpes.

What is the lifespan of a Fox?

Foxes can live for 3 to 11 years.

How fast is a Fox?

A Fox can travel at speeds of up to 29 miles per hour.

Who will win a fight between a fox and a raccoon?

A fox would win a fight against a raccoon. Foxes are larger, faster, and stronger than the vast majority of raccoons that they would encounter. Furthermore, foxes are ambush predators that have large enough teeth to bite into their foes, crack bones, and do fatal damage.

Can a fox outrun a dog?

The deciding factor comes down to strength and endurance versus agility and speed. If the fox has a good lead against a solitary dog, the fox will always escape. However, the dog has a natural advantage in a pack.

Whare rkey differences between jackals and foxes?

The key differences between jackals and foxes are size, weight, coat, predators, prey, habitat, lifestyle, and lifespan.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
  7. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals

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