- Spanish: Zorro
- Catalan: Guilla
- Portuguese: Raposa
- Photo credit: Above photo by Mike/Linda Fisher from their Roadrunners blog (Well worth a read!) http://roadrunnersmikelinda.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-sierra-cazorla-and-iberian-fox.html
The Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a globally widespread mammal of opportunistic behaviour. In Spain we have the subspecies Iberian red Fox (Vulpes vulpes Silacea) Zorro in Spanish which is slightly smaller than its northern European counterparts. Foxes, in general, have an ability to adapt to different habitats as well as varied food supplies. This canine hunter / scavenger stands around 35 to 45cm high at the shoulder with a body length of between 60 to 80cm and a tail or brush of on average 35cm.
The colouration can vary greatly from a strong red to a sandy brown or brindled coat. The under jaw and chest are white. Some have a dorsal black stripe which can also drop onto the shoulders in a cross shape. The tip of the tail can either be white or black. In some areas of Spain, fox coloration is often described as black or silvery black which is most unlike the traditional “Red” fox of the United Kindom. The males are generally heavier in build than females
Diet and habits
A Fox’s diet includes insects, earthworms, mice, voles, rabbits, birds and their eggs, amphibians, reptiles and a variety of fruit. (Contrary to popular belief their favorite food is not chicken from the local farmyard). They are also scavengers, eating carrion and sorting through waste left by humans. An adult fox will typically consume between 0.5 and 1kg of food per day. Normally hunting alone, they use a strong sense of smell and acute hearing. If encountering more food than they need, foxes will very often bury the excess in scrapes that they make in the ground.
Foxes are most active at dusk, extending into the night – especially if near to human populations. The fox is territorial with the size of area depending on availability of food. The territory is marked using scent glands, faeces and urine and may be as large as 50 km², though it is much smaller if food is abundant.
Faecal marking is often visible on paths, raised on stones, plants and especially on junctions. There is normally one main den but there may be several smaller dens through their territory for food storage and emergency cover.
Mating occurs during the winter, from December to February depending on latitude, with gestation taking around 52 days. They can be monogamous or polygamous. Generally 4 to 6 cubs are tended by the female in the den with the male providing food for them all. The cubs open their eyes within two weeks and will begin exploring at five weeks. At ten weeks old they are fully weaned and will disperse to create their own territories in the autumn. The young Foxes are sexually mature at 10 months and can live for around 5 to 7 years.
Predators of the Iberian red fox (Vulpes vulpes Silacea) Zorro
The major predators of Foxes in Iberia are Golden eagle, Wolf, Lynx and of course Man. (The latter seems to have an unhealthy hatred for this creature for some reason). Both the Iberian Lynx and the Iberian Wolf will actively seek, hunt, attack and kill a fox simply to reduce rival predator numbers within their territory.
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