The red fox - top tips to spot wild foxes in Scotland

Red Fox

By Donald Riddell, Director, Highland Safaris

Now that we are into February the days are getting noticeably longer and lighter, which offers more opportunity to spend in the great Scottish outdoors. Wildlife watching is always hugely popular with visitors to Highland Safaris, whether they are out on bikes, on a Land Rover trip or simply walking one of our many trails. And one of the most popular creatures to look out for is the red fox, so here are our wildlife rangers’ expert tips on the wily red.

I want to see a red fox, but where do I start?

The red fox (whose scientific name is Vulpes vulpes) is the UK’s only wild member of the dog family. Hardy and resourceful, it has a reputation for intelligence and cunning. Slightly smaller than a medium-sized domestic dog, the adult measures around 75cm from head to tail and weighs around 5kg (it stands about knee-height to a 6ft-tall man). You may catch a glimpse of an orange-red creature, so check to see if it has a flattened skull, upright triangular ears with black tips, a pointed snout and a long, bushy tail, which is known as a brush. When on the trail of the fox look out for droppings, which are often grey-tinged with small mammal bones in them, on tracks. And if you spot tracks in the snow, check to see if they are in a straight line as foxes put each paw into the same track.

Red Fox

When is the best time to see red foxes?

Foxes are out and about all year, and can be active by day. Red foxes mate during winter, with vixens making noisy, yipping calls at night to attract a mate. A pair will stay together to act as parents to newborn ‘kits’ or ‘cubs’, which are born blind and resemble a puppy, with a short nose and ears, and brown fur. The young stay in the den for several weeks and after three months are left to fend for themselves.

Where are the best places to look for red foxes?

Foxes are able to survive in diverse habitats ranging from forests and grasslands to mountains, but also adapt well to human environments, such as farms and suburban settings. They can be spotted anywhere from the shores of lowland lochs, to woodlands and mountains.

Wild foxes

How long do foxes live?

Wild foxes can live around 7-10 years, while in captivity that can extend to around 15 years, similar to pet dogs.

What do foxes eat?

Perhaps surprisingly, foxes are omnivorous, enjoying everything from small mammals, rodents, birds and carrion, to berries and fruit. Urban-dwelling foxes will scavenge food from bins. Excellent hunters, they are extremely quick off the mark, and can turn and jump with ease.

Wild foxes

If you do happen to spot a red fox, remember to let us know with the hashtag #fantasticmrfox. And if you are lucky enough to get a picture, please share it on any of our social media channels via #HighlandSafaris

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