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Red Fox in Winter

Picture a bright, brisk, sunshiny winter day with a fresh blanket of snow. Now picture a red fox in its winter best trotting across that landscape. A friend recently described that sight to me. His excitement was quite apparent.

The color of a red fox can vary considerably. But generally, they are a yellowish red or perhaps reddish brown with black feet as well as black tips of the ears. The tip of the tail is white, as are the cheeks, throat, and underside. As you probably know, that makes a red fox a colorful and distinctive sight, particularly in a white winter landscape.

The red fox remains active throughout the winter months. They will feed mainly on small mammals such as mice and voles. Their warm coat of fur and reserves of body fat also help them through the cold months. Plus they will find shelter in burrows and decrease their activity during the winter months which conserves energy.

The red fox is not a very large animal. They only weigh around 8-15 pounds and measure about 15-16 inches tall at the shoulder. From the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail is maybe three feet.

The red fox ranges over much of North America, Europe, and Asia as well as parts of North Africa, and is one of the more important fur bearers. Their fur, in addition to being colorful, is comparatively soft, dense, and long. Fox fur was, and still is, used to trim coats as well as making scarfs, muffs, hats, and the like. They are also occasionally used as the main component of some jackets and coats. I can recall a lady from my childhood that sported a red fox shawl-like garment. I did a quick online check for fox coats. They are available online, with the price ranging from perhaps a few hundred dollars to over three thousand dollars.

So as you travel about this winter, be on the lookout for red fox. And if you can get a good look at one in contrast to a fresh big white blanket of snow, you too may find yourself excited at the sight of this colorful and interesting animal.

Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of “Natural North Dakota” and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005 he has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for North Dakota’s newest newspaper, the Lake Metigoshe Mirror. His columns also appear under “The Naturalist” in several other weekly newspapers across North Dakota.
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