What does the red fox eat?
Red foxes are omnivores and eat mainly invertebrates such as rabbits, mice, and other small rodents. However, they will also eat carrion (dead animals), fish, birds’ eggs, and even fruits when other food is scarce.
The red fox’s diet depends on the time of year and location. For example, foxes in warmer climates eat more fruit than those in colder regions, which consume more meat because fruits are less available.
They will also scavenge for any dead animal they might find, such as roadkill.
Occasionally, they consume insects (especially grasshoppers), earthworms, spiders, snails, and other insects, but they’re not very high in the diet. Red foxes only need to hunt about once per week when leftover prey from previous meals lasts. But, of course, a rabbit lasts longer than a mouse.
They eat deer if they can catch them, which is usually not the case unless a deer is old or weak. Fox
Red foxes prefer to hide their food to return later rather than eat it immediately while out in the open. Sometimes they will cache (hide) surplus food during seasons when prey is abundant for consumption at a later time of year when food is scarce.
Foxes are very capable stalkers, and when hunting for rabbits, they will use a different strategy than if attempting to catch a mouse. Instead, a fox will sit and wait in anticipation of its prey running past.
The red fox’s jaws have great biting force; the strong jaws can crush with almost 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch). As a result, a red fox may consume over 70 vertebrate animals annually.
When food is scarce or during harsh weather conditions in the winter months, a red fox may supplement its diet with plant matter such as bark, buds, berries, nuts, leaves, and roots. However, most will only eat plants if other food becomes scarce. When consuming berries, the entire fruit, including seeds, is eaten.
The red fox will dig up or scratch the ground to find an animal’s hidden burrow. Foxes can smell food from a mile away, and once they’ve found their prey’s home, they may wait nearby for many days before catching it. Red foxes are nocturnal hunters, meaning that they hunt at night when most of their prey is out and about (such as rabbits). They do not move fast when chasing their prey because this would cause them to overheat, so they typically run slowly until within 15 yards and then sprint until the rabbit is caught.
The fox then drags its meal back to a safe place to eat or caches it later.
Red foxes are opportunistic hunters and will take advantage of any accessible food source. Raccoons, skunks, cats, and opossums may be victims.
They also prey on farm animals such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, or geese, especially during winter when other food is in short supply or during the summer when they are raising pups.
They will occasionally attack small domestic dogs and cats if no wild prey is available, although this does not happen often.