Foxes

Evaluating Predation by Foxes
Although poultry are their more common domestic prey, both red and gray foxes may prey on livestock. This is generally less typical of gray foxes. Usually, foxes kill only young or small animals, particularly lambs and kids. However, in some circumstances, probably because their food is limited, red foxes may kill large lambs and kids, adult sheep and goats and small calves.

Foxes usually attack the throat of lambs and kids, but kill some by multiple bites to the neck and back. This may result from young animals being caught while lying down.

Fox Predation – Description

Although poultry are their more common domestic prey, both red and gray foxes may prey on livestock. This is generally less typical of gray foxes. Usually, foxes kill only young or small animals, particularly lambs and kids. However, in some circumstances, probably because their food is limited, red foxes may kill large lambs and kids, adult sheep and goats and small calves.

Foxes usually attack the throat of lambs and kids, but kill some by multiple bites to the neck and back. This may result from young animals being caught while lying down. Foxes do not have the size and strength to hold and immobilize adult sheep and goats easily or to crush the skull and large bones; therefore, repeated bites may be required to subdue prey, even smaller animals. Numerous injuries also may result when young foxes attempt to kill but lack the experience to attack the throat or other vital areas.

Foxes generally prefer the viscera and begin feeding through an entry behind the ribs. However, some seem to prefer the nose and tongue and may consume the head of small prey. It has been noted in some areas that red foxes tend to feed on the carcasses of large prey and carrion on the side nearest the ground. Red foxes also are noted for carrying small carcasses back to their dens to feed their young which may account for some poultry, lambs and kids that disappear and are never found.

Canine teeth in foxes are smaller and spacing is narrower than in coyotes. In general, these teeth are approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart on gray foxes and 11/16 to 1 inch apart on red foxes. Foxes rarely cause severe bone damage to livestock other than poultry. This helps to distinguish their kills from those made by coyotes and other larger carnivores.

Fox tracks resemble coyote tracks but are typically smaller and foxes have a shorter stride. Red fox tracks are normally about 1 3/4 -inches wide and 2 1/4-inches long; gray fox tracks are slightly smaller. A normal red fox’s trotting stride is about 13 to 15 inches; a gray fox’s stride is about 11 to 13 inches