Red Fox

A red fox kit peers up at the camera.

Red Fox Biology

Red fox are abundant and widely distributed across the country in a variety of habitats. This slender, mid-sized mammal is common at Fire Island National Seashore. Red fox have a reddish-orange coat, black legs, and bushy, white-tipped tail, though some may appear lighter or darker in color.

Red fox pairs are monogomous, mating in winter and then caring for their young well into the summer. After mating, the female will build a den in which the family unit will live for the duration of the rearing season. Four to six pups or "kits" are typically born to a pair each year and leave in the fall to find territories of their own.

While primarily crepuscular animals, red fox can be seen during the day, especially as females hunt for prey to feed their growing pups. Red fox are hunters, prefering small mammals. Red fox have also been documented foraging on birds, the fruit of native plants, and foord or trash left behind by humans. Learn how you can help keep wild animals like red fox and yourself safe but never touching or feeding wildlife.


Sarcoptic mange is a disease which can spread through mammal populations living in high densities. It is a naturally occurring skin infection spread from animal to animal by the Sarcoptes mite.

It is not uncommon to see a red fox with mange in this region. In 2017 and 2018, red fox with sarcoptic mange were observed on Fire Island. Red fox infected with mange often appear scruffy and emaciated, and may be less fearful of humans. Sadly, red fox often succumb to the disease.

Mange can be transferred to pets and humans. If you observe a red fox with mange on Fire Island, please do so from a distance. Find out where to report your injured wildlife sightings.

Last updated: July 27, 2018

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