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Red Fox: The Most Dashing Urban Mammal


Red FoxPhoto: A red fox sitting among native grasses. Photo credit. 

Species Spotlight: Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

For the last couple years, we have been highlighting many of the different flora that are commonly found in the Rock Creek Watershed.  This month we decided to switch it up and focus on one of our favorite fauna that you will see commonly roaming the areas around Rock Creek…the cute, and elusive, red fox!


Red Fox Photo Credit

Foxes are everywhere!
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes), is one of the most widely distributed fox species on the planet. The foxes can typically be found natively across the entire Northern Hemisphere and in many places in the Southern Hemisphere where the foxes have been introduced.  In fact, the red fox is one of the most invasive species in Australia where there are estimated to be more than 6.2 million foxes found on the island.

Fox at Haines Point
Photo: This fox was spotted on the golf course in East Potomac Park, Washington, DC. Photo credit. 

Even in the city? 

In the DC area, red foxes can commonly be found in and around Rock Creek Park! The size and profile of a red fox varies significantly with its age and sex, but on average adults measure between 14-20 inches high and 18-35 inches long. Their tails can measure up to 20 inches in length in the largest foxes.

Red foxes are easily distinguished by their reddish, rusty-tinted fur, but some foxes can also have grey or silver fur which is commonly found in colder regions.

Rock Creek Park specifically offers the perfect home for native red fox species who can create den sites in wooded areas or elsewhere.  The DC area also provides a menu of food options for the omnivorous foxes.  They consume everything from mice to squirrels to chipmunks and even rats!

Typically, the foxes are active during the nighttime from dusk until dawn while they feed, but they can also be spotted during the daytime on occasion.  They typically scurry away when they sense human interactions and they rarely pose threats to humans or pets unless the fox is sick or injured (which can happen).

Fox in Rock Creek PArk!

Photo: Fox in Rock Creek Park near Walter Peirce Park. Photo credit. 

Did you spot a fox? 

If you ever see a red fox in Rock Creek Park or elsewhere around DC feel free to admire it, maybe even snap a photo, but do not approach them. If you see them hanging around your yard, do some exploring when they are gone to potentially find out why. You may have some exposed trash or a tipped over bird feeder that is attracting their attention.

All in all, these foxes are very adept at surviving, and even flourishing, in this urbanized area.  If you ever happen to see one out in the wild, remember it is their home too!

Written by John Maleri 

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