Red Fox Cubs (Vulpes vulpes) - Devon, UK
Canon 500mm F4 L IS plus 1.4x Extender
Evaluative Metering Exposure +2/3
Text adapted from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_fox
The Red Fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia. Its range has increased alongside human expansion, having been introduced to Australasia, where it is considered harmful to native mammal and bird populations. Because of these factors, it is listed as Least Concern for extinction by the IUCN. It is listed among the 100 "world's worst alien invasive species".
The red fox originated from smaller-sized ancestors from Eurasia during the Middle Villafranchian period, and colonised North America shortly after the Wisconsian glaciation.
Red foxes are social animals, whose groups are led by a mated pair which monopolises breeding. Subordinates within a group are typically the young of the mated pair, who remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits. The species primarily feeds on small rodents, though it may also target leporids, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates and young ungulates. Fruit and vegetable matter is also eaten on occasion. Although the red fox tends to displace or even kill its smaller cousins, it is nonetheless vulnerable to attack from larger predators such as wolves, coyotes, golden jackals and medium and large felines.
The species has a long history of association with humans, having been extensively hunted as a pest and furbearer for centuries, as well as being prominently represented in human folklore and mythology. Because of its widespread distribution and large population, the red fox is one of the most important furbearing animals harvested for the fur trade.
The earliest fossil specimens of Vulpes vulpes were uncovered in Barany, Hungary dating from between 3.4—1.8 million years ago. The ancestral species was likely smaller than the current one, as the earliest red fox fossils are smaller than modern populations. The earliest fossil remains of the modern species date back to the mid-Pleistocene in association with the refuse of early human settlements. This has led to the theory that the red fox was exploited by primitive humans as both a source of food and pelts.