URBAN WILDLIFE

The dinnertime scenario is common across much of the northern hemisphere, the red fox’s natural range. (Red foxes are the most widespread meat-eating mammals on the planet.) Cities and suburbs are spreading into the countryside, swallowing up red fox habitats across the world. But instead of moving, these clever wild animals learn to thrive near large populations of people.

To avoid humans, skillful red foxes hunt at night in backyards, gardens, and city parks. Luckily, they’re not picky eaters. Although rabbits, mice, and other rodents are their favorite meals, red foxes will eat birds, frogs, snakes, grasshoppers, and even berries. An extra-hungry red fox will also jump into an open garbage can for tasty leftovers or nibble on food that’s been left out on the porch for someone’s pet.

FEEDING PUPS

Red foxes even look similar to some of your favorite pets. They’re canines, which are relatives of dogs, wolves, and coyotes. But in some ways, they’re actually more like cats. They have long whiskers, retractable claws, and excellent night vision. Also like cats, red foxes hunt alone rather than in wolf-like packs.

Although they hunt solo, both red fox parents take care of their pups, or kits. Parents take turns hunting for food and bringing it back to hungry kits waiting at home. In the wild, red fox homes—called dens—are usually on the edges of forests, near fields where hunting would be good. In the city, dens are often located under porches, where access to rodents is easy.

KEEP THEM WILD

Many of them might show up in in backyards, but red foxes are wild animals. That’s why you should always keep a good distance from foxes and never feed them. Wildlife biologists advise covering garbage cans and bringing in pets and pet food at night. If humans feed them, red foxes can lose wild ways like their ability to hunt. If they can’t hunt, they can’t survive.