What should I know about the behavioural ecology of the red fox?

The red fox is an opportunistic generalist that can adapt to a wide range of habitats (semi-desert to urban centres). As a result, its behavioural ecology varies greatly according to its habitat (read more about red fox behavioural ecology here).

Two key periods have been identified in the transmission dynamics of rabies: the mating season and the onset of dispersal. The mating season in the northern hemisphere starts in January and can last until February. During this period there is a great deal of activity among foxes with many opportunities to transmit the disease. Also, in early autumn when the juveniles start their exploratory trips that ultimately lead to dispersal, the increased movement can lead to increased encounters between members of the same species, and consequently there is more opportunity to transmit the disease.

In late spring, the movements of the young foxes are restricted to small areas, and aerial distribution of baits will only have limited success in reaching this subpopulation.
Also, in times of high food availability, especially the preferred food-source, bait acceptability and uptake can be much lower than in periods of lower food availability.


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Version 1 - Last updated November 2012