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General Information About Foxes in North America

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

There are five species of the fox found in North America:  The Red Fox, the Gray Fox, the Kit Fox, the Swift fox, and the Island Fox.  The two most commonly seen are the red fox and the gray fox
Male adult foxes are known commonly as dogs, tods, vixes and reynards.  Female adult foxes are known as vixens and young foxes are known as kits, cubs and pups.  A group of foxes is called a skulk.

In many cultures today the fox is a familiar animal of folklore, a symbol of something full of cunning and trickery. 
In Chinese folklore, fox spirits lure men away from their wives; in Japanese folklore, the kitsune is known for being highly mischievous and cunning.  In western culture, the words “fox” or “foxy” are slang for an individual with sex appeal and the word “vixen”, commonly associated with a female fox, is used to describe an attractive woman with questionable qualities.
Over the past several years, the reputation of the fox has improved due to its portrayals in fiction and literature. 
Most recent portrayals are of "Tod" the red fox in the "Fox and the Hound" and the animated version of Robin Hood where the hero and main character is a fox.  Another portrayal is that of Br’er Fox from the Uncle Remus folktales. 
Below are descriptions of the five species of fox found in North America. Three out of five of these species are currently endangered.  First, comparing the Red Fox and the Gray Fox.

The Red Fox vs. the Gray Fox
Between the red fox and the gray fox, the red fox is the larger of the two species weighing seven to fifteen pounds, growing to three feet in length and having a foot and a half long tail.  Both the red and gray fox will dig their own dens or if available will occupy the abandoned dens of woodchucks, badgers or other burrowing animals.  Their dens are used to raise their young or escape the cold weather.  More often than not, both foxes prefer to rest under brush piles or fallen logs.
Foxes are only dangerous to humans when rabid and between the two, the gray fox is more reclusive.  The red fox has been commonly seen walking through yards ignoring any humans that may be around.  Both foxes will dig under fences to reach outdoor pets such as rabbits and poultry.  They pay little attention to adult cats, because they are almost of the same size, however they will go after kittens. 

Credits: Our thanks to Lani Powell, who researched and wrote our fox articles!

Five Species of Fox Found in North America

Red Fox    Gray Fox    Kit Fox    Swift Fox    Island Fox