Home Animals Foxes in Montana (Types, Habitat, Diet..)

Foxes in Montana (Types, Habitat, Diet..)

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red fox in open

Foxes are a familiar species in Montana, found in a variety of habitats throughout the vast state. Foxes typically live in dens made from sticks and logs within grasslands, meadows, brushy foothills and mountain deserts. Foxes in Montana may primarily hunt voles or hares depending on their chosen habitat and region. Foxes tend to be most active during dawn and dusk hours when their prey is abundant. Fox sightings can offer a rare glimpse into the beauty of wildlife for those visiting or living in Montana’s varied landscapes.

foxes in montana

Are There Foxes in Montana

Yes! In fact, Montana is home to two distinct species of fox – swift foxes and red foxes. 

  • Swift Foxes: Swift foxes were once widespread across much of North America, but their population has been in decline since the mid-1900s due to fear of disease and changes in land use. Today, they can mostly be found inhabiting grasslands in eastern and central Montana. 
  • Red Foxes: Red foxes, on the other hand, are far more pervasive throughout the state and can be seen residing near sagebrush areas at higher elevations as well as in populated areas such as cities and towns. 

Types of Foxes in Montana

Montana is home to a variety of foxes, each with its own distinct characteristics and habitats. The swift fox and red fox are all common throughout the state. The swift fox is well-known for its agility and speed, usually only seen by those who maintain a sharp eye outdoors. The red fox stands out among Montana’s many species of animals due to its signature orange and white ruff around its face.

Habitat

Foxes in Montana can be found in a variety of habitats within the state, ranging from high alpine meadows to grassy lowland plains. They are social animals and often organize themselves into packs with a dominant male and multiple females. Foxes also inhabit every type of forest within Montana, including deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests as well as open scrublands and rangelands. Foxes prefer areas that provide plenty of covers such as shrubs, grasses, fallen trees or even rock den locations.

fox on hill

Diet

Foxes in the wild have incredibly varied and balanced diets, subsisting mostly on small mammals such as voles, rabbits, and moles. They also hunt birds, lizards, frogs, and fish; their diet during the winter changes to include more scavenged carrion or refuse sources.

They also have preferred diets of other small animals living in or near water sources or burrows, foxes enjoy fruits and vegetables like apples or raspberries. Foxes are also adept at being opportunistic feeders; they’ll quickly take advantage of any available food source they can find. Their omnivorous diet allows them to sustain themselves over a wide range of ecosystems while they search for prey that is not only nutrient-rich but also provides enough calories to maintain their metabolisms.

Colour

Foxes in Montana come in a wide array of beautiful colours from the golden hues of the red fox, to the dark shades of black, silver and grey. Foxes can also be found with white markings which give them an especially eye-catching beauty. Foxes in Montana keep their colouration year-round, with some changing slightly as temperatures drop and winter approaches. Foxes usually change colour more as juveniles than adults but are still able to sport some interesting pattern variations no matter their age. 

red fox

Size, Lifespan and Weight 

In Montana, the most common species of fox is the red fox, which can weigh anywhere from 8-15 pounds and has a typical lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild. Although they do not typically live longer than that in their natural environment, it’s been known for them to survive up to 10 years when they are well taken care of. 

Predators

Foxes are skilful and resourceful hunters, but they too can be vulnerable in the wild. They face potential threats from a variety of predators, such as wolves, bobcats, bears, coyotes, cougars and hawks. Some of these animals will take advantage of a fox if it is alone or has been injured. Wolves may even form packs to hunt for larger prey like foxes. Even if foxes do escape the clutches of their pursuers, they could still fall victim to diseases that their predators spread in the environment.

fox family

Reproduction

Foxes are monogamous creatures and mate for life, coming together usually in late fall or early winter after a fertile period of courtship rituals. Fox populations remain relatively stable due to their short gestation period and litter size; females typically give birth to litters of up to six pups after only 52 days. Fox parents make sure to keep their families safe when it comes time to raise these pups, often taking special care to ensure they find secure den sites before they arrive. Foxes reproduce quickly, making sure that their population numbers are maintained across the state of Montana.

Are Foxes allowed as pets in Montana?

Due to their wild nature, foxes are not generally allowed as pets in the state of Montana. The laws and regulations in place are intended to protect both humans and foxes from dangerous and unhealthy situations. 

No, it is illegal to keep foxes in Montana as a pet.

References:

https://pets.webmd.com/can-i-have-a-pet-fox

https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Fact-Sheets/Gray-Fox

https://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AMAJA03030

https://www.montanaoutdoor.com/2020/01/know-the-difference-between-swift-foxes-coyotes-and-red-foxes/

https://www.americanprairie.org/at-risk/swift-fox

https://www.yellowstonewildlifesanctuary.org/red-fox

Author Profile
Zahra Makda
Wildlife Enthusiast | Explorer at Animals Research

Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.

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