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

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

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grey fox

Wisconsin is an important habitat for red foxes, who are commonly seen in rural, suburban, and even urban areas across the state. Foxes are fairly adaptable animals, so they can usually be found in diverse habitats like woodlands, wetlands, meadows, grasslands, and agricultural areas. In Wisconsin, foxes may eat a range of food items including small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels, seeds, fruit from shrubs or trees, insects and worms. They also scavenge roadkill or other dead animals when possible. This diversity helps keep the Wisconsin fox population healthy and thriving.

foxes in wisconsin

What Kind of Foxes Live in Wisconsin

Most common in the state are red foxes, though grey foxes have been known to inhabit wooded and brush-filled areas. Red foxes commonly live in open fields and farmlands as well as forests, while grey foxes prefer more hilly or rocky terrain that provides cover for them to hide from predators. In some parts of the state, it is not uncommon to find both red and grey foxes sharing the same habitat. Among these two species, Wisconsin also houses arctic and swift foxes, though they are highly rare and typically only found in specific parts of the state such as Door County or along the bluffs along Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline.

Habitat

Foxes are found in the densely wooded forests of northern Wisconsin; these areas often have higher-than-typical amounts of small game (such as mice and voles) that they can feed on. In southern Wisconsin, foxes prefer to live in prairies or grasslands with patches of brush-filled terrain that provide both a food source and shelter from predators. Foxes also thrive around farmlands as they offer them plenty of food sources like rodents that steal crops and insects. During the denning season between March and April, foxes dig dens in tall grassy meadows within rugged hills because those areas protect them against cold temperatures while allowing them to make their dens quickly. 

fox

Diet

Foxes in Wisconsin 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 a preferred diet 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 Wisconsin come in a variety of colours and shades, but the most common is red. Typically, the bodies of these foxes are reddish-brown or tawny with white markings on their bellies, legs, chins and throats. Black-coloured foxes are also seen often among Wisconsin’s wild fox population, featuring sleek black fur that may have grey or even some rusty orange tones in certain areas. Silver-phased foxes occur less often than the typical red colouration and feature an entirely grey coat with dark guard hairs and white tips. 

Size, Lifespan and Weight 

Foxes are a common sight throughout Wisconsin and they come in a variety of sizes. Red foxes, which are the most common in the state, generally weigh between 8 to 15 pounds with an average lifespan of 2 to 4 years. The largest species, the Arctic fox, is also occasionally seen in Wisconsin and can weigh up to 24 pounds. These beautiful animals typically live for 3 to 6 years in the wild.

red fox

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.

Reproduction

Reproduction is quite a complex process for these animals, as foxes usually mate in the early summer months and give birth to a litter of up to twelve pups the following spring. The kits are usually born blind and deaf, but quickly adapt and begin to learn necessary survival tactics from their parents during the first few weeks of life. It is important for foxes to reproduce successfully since their major threats include habitat loss, human persecution, automobile collisions, and diseases like rabies.

What to do if you see a fox in your backyard?

Spotting a fox in your backyard can be a magical experience, as long as you take the necessary precautions. Observing a fox from afar is the best way to make sure it remains comfortable and safe. Make sure to keep small children and pets inside until the fox moves on, as it may startle them or become defensive. Do not attempt to get too close to the animal as they are wild after all. If you have food outside your home, make sure to bring it in when you notice a fox so as not to attract any more of these animals or create an overly friendly connection with one particular specimen. 

red fox in wild

Are red foxes protected in Wisconsin?

Red foxes are a vital part of our Wisconsin wildlife, so it’s important to understand the laws and regulations in place to protect them. In Wisconsin, red foxes are classified as furbearers, which means they are protected by the Department of Natural Resources with designated hunting seasons and rules. 

While it is legal to hunt red foxes during certain times of year with licensed hunting tags, practices such as snaring or trapping are strictly prohibited as that could lead to significant injury or even death for the animal. The goal when it comes to protecting these furry creatures is to be aware of the laws and regulations in order to enjoy them without disturbing their natural habitats or putting them in danger.

Where do red foxes live in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, red foxes can be found in both rural and urban environments, living in wooded areas as well as along open spaces. These adaptable animals make their homes anywhere from near shorelines to meadows and pastures. They occupy a wide array of habitats that range from farmland, with vast swaths of cornfields and hayfields, to extensive wetlands teeming with waterfowl. Red foxes even go above the trees by taking advantage of abandoned buildings or hollow logs as dens for their families.

References:

https://nwco.net/states/states-q-z/wisconsin/foxes/#:~:text=Legal%20status%20in%20Wisconsin%3A,set%20hunting%20and%20trapping%20seasons.

https://dnr.wi.gov/news/input/documents/guidance/final/10-14-2019/WM-19-0006-C.pdf

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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