Where Do Red Foxes Live?


On a recent road trip across the state, I saw so many red foxes.  I began to wonder where else they live in North America.

Red foxes are live around the world. In North America, they live in diverse climates and habitats, including deserts, woodland, grassland, and mountains. Red foxes also live in urban areas with large human populations.  They make their home in a den and have their own territory.

Red foxes are one of the most widespread mammals in North America. They live all over the United States and Canada.

They do not live in the far north where the Arctic Fox is more adapted to live. 

If you would like more details on how the Arctic fox survives, I have written an article here.

Where Do Red Foxes Live?

Non-native red foxes such as the European red fox are better adapted to live around humans in urban and suburban areas than the native red foxes. The red fox is not present in some states of the western U.S.

Red foxes historically occupied the northern regions of North America. The red fox also occupied the high elevations in the west of the United States.  The European red fox was introduced later in parts of Alaska, California, and many of the south-eastern, eastern, and central states. 

If you or someone you know loves foxes then check out these great gifts on Amazon.

Red foxes had not been seen in some States until the 1900s. However, the red fox expanded into a sustained species at this time.

Following significant habitat changes, such as the clearing of forests and changes in the habitat of the prey of the red fox, there was an expansion southward from Canada of the red fox.

If you would like more details of how a red fox survives the winter, I have written an article here.

Where Does The Red Fox Make Their Home?

Red foxes make their homes by digging burrows, called dens in the ground.  These burrows provide the red fox with an excellent location to store food, a safe place to have their pups, and provide a cool area to sleep.

The entrances to the tunnels are oval or round holes into the earth. The tunnels are approximately 8 inches in height and 12 inches wide, and these are dug down at an angle of 40 to 45°. The burrows extend below the ground between one and three metes. 

The burrows will normally have at least two chambers. The cubs are raised in the larger chamber after being born. The foxes sleep in the smaller chamber.

There are normally at least two tunnels to the chambers to be used in case of an emergency. 

Den Sites

There are certain features that red foxes look for when selecting a den. Most den sites tend to be among the trees, under buildings, or vegetation.  The dens are generally on slopes which are easy to drain and do not flood. 

In a study in Germany, 95% of the dens that were looked at were on south-east facing slopes.

Foxes will sometimes take over the burrows of other animals that have been abandoned by their owners.  Rabbit burrows are a favorite due to the size although they do need to be extended. The red fox has also been known to use rock caves, woodpiles, and scree piles.

Dens may be used for several years consecutively by the foxes. In some cases, there is more than one den within a territory.

Want to know why foxes scream? Find out here in this article I wrote.

Living In Urban Areas

It has been found that red foxes will settle their dens closer to human settlements than most other mammals.

The red fox can make their den in many habitats.  Red fox dens have been found under occupied houses, under classrooms, and in baseball stadiums. 

Railway embankments, rockeries, flower beds, tree roots, and under gravestones have all been used as dens for foxes.  Red foxes have also been known to make their den under outbuildings, sheds, and garages.

The red fox, although not the best climbers have been known to make their dens in trees.

Photo of fox

How Large Is A Territory?

The resources in the area determine the size of a red fox territory. The territory would need ample food, water, and shelter. The territory of the red fox would need to be secure from other intruders. 

The territory will generally not accommodate other members of the same species.  The boundaries can be as vast as 40 km² or as small as 0.2 km² depending on the area.

The area over which the red fox wanders looking for food and water is termed the home range.

The home range may have other intruders in some or all of the areas depending on the number of resources available.

Red foxes of the opposite sex are tolerated more when found in a different territory than the same sex.

Using landscape features such as tree-lined roads, hedges, and other natural boundaries, the red fox marks his territory.  The red fox would normally do this by leaving their scat and urine as scent. 

The red fox will leave an amount of scent. The calculation of how much is determined by how frequently the travel routes are used.

Conspicuous objects such as rocks, tree stumps, and in urban areas, garden gnomes are a prime place for scat to be left. 

The fox sprays urine at nose height, and the urine contains information to other foxes.  This includes information about the health, social status, and the season of the fox that left it. Dominant red foxes scent mark more than subordinates.

If you would like more details on how foxes navigate, I have written an article here.

Which Subspecies Of Red Fox Live Where?

When I was researching where they live I was surprised at how many different subspecies there were. I wanted to research this so I could give you information on where these also live.

American Red Fox

The American red fox (Vulpes Vulpes Fulvus) can be found throughout the region East of the Rocky Mountains except for Southern Texas and the Southern Great Plains.

British Columbian Fox

The British Columbian fox (Vulpes Vulpes Abietorum) can be found throughout Western Canada.

Northern Alaskan Fox

The Northern Alaskan fox (Vulpes Vulpes Alascensis) can be sighted in Alaska, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories.  Andreafsky Wilderness in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is a good place to see them.

Cascade Mountains Red Fox

The Cascade Mountains red fox (Vulpes Vulpes Cascadensis) occurs along the northwest coast of the United States and British Columbia in the Cascade Range extending from Southern British Columbia through to Washington.

Kodiak Fox

The Kodiak fox (Vulpes Vulpes Harrimani) make their home in Alaska on Kodiak Island. Most can be found in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.  The Kodiak fox is very large compared to other subspecies.

Kenai Peninsular Fox

The Kenai Peninsula fox (Vulpes Vulpes Kenaiensis) has softer fur than the Kodiak fox and can be found in the Kenai Peninsula South of Anchorage, Alaska.

Wasatch Mountains Fox

The Wasatch Mountains fox (Vulpes Vulpes Macroura) gets its name from the Wasatch Mountains near Utah which they occupy. The Wasatch Mountains fox can also be found in Western Wyoming and Montana, Idaho, and up to Alberta.

Sierra Red Fox

The Sierra Red fox, also known as the High Sierra fox (Vulpes Vulpes Necator) is another fox that gets his name from the range that they are found.  The Sierra Red fox lives in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and occurs in the Cascade Mountains south of the Columbia River.  The High Sierra ox is one of the most endangered mammals in North America with a population estimated at less than one hundred.

Conclusion

As we can see, the red fox is adapted to live in most habitats around North America.  With foxes living close to almost all of us there is a good chance that you will see this beautiful animal up close.

With foxes living close to almost all of us there is a good chance that you will see this beautiful animal up close.

If you or someone you know loves foxes then check out these great gifts on Amazon.

Want to read up on how foxes navigate. Find out here.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

Recent Content