Red foxes make appearances throughout Mississippi
If you’ve spent much time traveling through Mississippi, especially close to dawn or dusk, chances are you have seen a red fox. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is frequently found in and around cities and towns.
The red fox is a medium-sized mammal, with the general appearance of a small dog, having a pointed muzzle, prominent ears, black feet, reddish-yellow to tawny across the upper section of the body, and whitish or grayish on the underside. The most distinguishing feature is its tail. The red fox’s tail accounts for approximately one-third of its total body length and is bushy with the terminal portion being black, tipped with white.
The red fox prefers upland woods and farmlands with meadows, cultivated fields, pastures, and woodlots, but can also be found in bottomland woods, especially adjacent to agricultural areas.
The red fox is a monogamous animal and it is not unusual for them to be mated for life. They pair off and breeding usually occurs in January and February. Den sites are typically located in wooded areas adjoining fields, along wooded rivers or streams, or in rocky outcroppings. A den can be excavated in a cut bank or gully, or a natural or abandoned cavity may be suitable. Most den sites have numerous entrances. Dens are generally only used to rear young or as shelter from harsh weather.
It is interesting to note that there was a debate as to whether the red fox species in Mississippi is the introduced European subspecies or the native American red fox. The red fox was not always present over much of the state when it was forested, although it may have been present in the Blackland Prairies. Land clearing for agricultural purposes provided suitable habitat and the red fox extended its range. Evidence now favors the view that the European subspecies never became well established and that the present day populations consist of various subspecies of native red fox.