On The Run: The World’s 7 Most Amazing Foxes

Foxes, a diverse family of canid (dog-like) mammals comprising 6 modern genera and nearly 40 species, can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Red Fox

Foxes don’t get much more “foxy” than the Red Fox – it’s scientific name is Vulpes vulpes, after all. What’s more, the Red Fox is both the largest, most abundant and most widely distributed member of the 12-species “True Fox” genus. Red Foxes are also among the small group of animals who have expanded their ranges in conjunction with the progressive growth of human habitation. (images at top and above via caroline legg)

* Fun Fox Factoid: Red Foxes were introduced to Australia by settlers in the 1830s and their presence has been exceptionally damaging to native wildlife. Considered to be one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species, they have spread across the continent in lockstep with their principal prey: the notoriously invasive European Rabbit.

Island Fox

Compared to its wide-ranging aforementioned relative, the Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis) can only be found on 6 of the 8 Channel Islands off California’s Pacific ocean coastline. Interestingly, each of the fox-inhabited islands has its own distinct subspecies. Island Foxes are the smallest foxes in North America, a consequence of evolutionary “island dwarfism” that gradually reduces a species’ size to cope with limited nutritional resources. (image via mliu92)

* Fun Fox Factoid: Island Foxes show little or no fear of humans, possibly due to their historic relationship with native tribes. It is thought the ancient island inhabitants semi-domesticated the local foxes and used them as pets, pest control and to assist in hunting.

Fennec Fox

Native to desert regions of North Africa, the Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is highly adapted for arid conditions – the pads of their paws are densely furred in order to provide protection when traversing scorching-hot sand dunes. While the Fennec Fox is the smallest Canid species, they sport the widest ear-to-body size ratio of any Canid. (image via Tambako The Jaguar)

* Fun Fox Factoid: Fennec Foxes’ cutely (or comically) large ears aren’t just for show: they help the foxes locate their prey by night and help them dissipate body heat during the day.

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