Love is in the air!
With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, the stores are filled with chocolates, roses, and hearts that people are purchasing in order to woo potential mates. Though humans aren’t the only animals out looking for love during this time of year. If you happen to hear a woman screaming in the woods behind your house – no, it’s not a murder occurring – it’s actually a Vixen (female fox) calling for a mate!
Here in Maryland both Red and Grey Fox occur naturally, with the Red Fox being more common due to it’s ability to adapt better in an urbanized setting. For the sake of clarification, we’ll stick with discussing the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes).
While Red Foxes “say” many things, the most unforgettable call is that of a Vixen luring males to her during the breeding season. The high-pitched tone is not too dissimilar from a wail of a female human and they often scream throughout the night. The breeding season stretches from January to March, peaking in the month of February. Once the female has attracted males to her, the males will often fight for the female’s favor. Once chosen, foxes usually remain monogamous for at least one breeding cycle, and some for life. Kits are born a few months later in a den constructed by the mother. Red Foxes may have between two and ten babies in a litter. Both the mother and father fox take care of the young throughout the spring and summer until they are old enough to fare for themselves.
Red Fox vocalizations also comprise of yips, barks, whines, and squeals. There are over twenty different vocalizations foxes use to communicate to each other. These calls help to find mates, protect territory, communicate emotions, and to play!
So when you hear a blood curdling scream this month, have no fear, love is here!