Foxes are amazing animals, and they can be found all over the world. Some of the main reasons why they have become widely known are indeed their unique visual characteristics and traits. Starting from their hunting habits and ending with their adaptive nature, they keep leaving us surprised.
Just like any other animal, the roles of females and males are divided in the fox population too. They have different habits, tasks, and even living environments. Females are responsible for the reproduction and raising of new generations. Therefore, their role in maintaining the population is essential. Since you came across this article, you may be wondering what is a female fox called?
Biology of Female Foxes
Before we move on to discuss what is a female fox called, let’s start by exploring the biological patterns of those awe-inspiring animals. Foxes are medium-sized mammals that are often as big as an adult housecat. They belong to the Canidae family. There are a total of 23 species of foxes recognized; however, among those, only twelve of them are called “true foxes”.
Visually, foxes are mostly detected by their bushy tails, which can be as long as half the size of the animal. They have a flat skull and a pointy-upturned snout. Their triangular ears are not only cute but also provide an excellent hearing. In addition to that, for some species, such as the fennec fox, large ears are used as a cooling mechanism at high temperatures.
Foxes can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Among all these, the most common species is the red fox. There are a total of 47 subspecies of this particular group. They can be found in places where you would not think survival was possible.
For example, the fennec fox lives in the Sahara desert, where the temperature can go up to 117 degrees Fahrenheit. The second extreme species is the Arctic fox. They live in the coldest habitat that can be found around the world. This is the place where the temperature can go down to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sounds unbelievable, right? But foxes truly are masters of adaptation. Can you believe how much effort female foxes have to put into raising babies in such an environment? They must have some secret. Alongside what is a female fox called, we will also discuss why they are such unique animals, and what they are capable of.
What Is a Female Fox Called?
All-female and all-male animals around the world have specific names referring to their gender. And foxes are not an exception to this rule. Male foxes are mainly called either “dog,” “reynard,” or “tod.” However, the female gender of the fox is called “Vixen”.
There are several thoughts about why a female fox is called a vixen. We stick to the version that states that the word “Vixen” comes from the word “fox”. Even though it has a different sound, this is the case. Fox comes from an old English dictionary, and according to the old version, female foxes were called “Fyxe.” After some time, with the influence of the southern accent, the name was modified to “Fixen.”
Female foxes of all fox species are called by the same name and are referred to as vixens. It does not matter if the specific fox species fall into the “true fox” list or not; they are all called the same name — Vixens. After finding out what is a female fox called, it is time to discuss its characteristics and unique nature.
Vixen Symbolic Meaning
The Foxes managed to stick around for as long as we remember. Because of this reason, they have become a significant part of many cultures and ancient myths. What is a female fox called has been the foundation of specific unpleasant nicknames. In many cultures, female foxes are symbols of bad-tempered women. Vixens are called women who are considered hot-headed or ill-tempered. Eventually, this “nickname” is not pleasant at all and, in most cases, is the subject of insult.
Generally, female foxes are a symbol of slyness, trickery, and cleverness. All these symbolic meanings come from the traits that those animals have and that help them to live and survive.
Reproduction Cycle of Vixens
Vixens have a reproductive cycle of twelve months, and believe it or not, their success rate goes up to 80%. It depends on the specific species. However, generally, the gestation period of vixens is around 52 days. They give birth either in March or in April. Typically, the litter consists of 4 or 5 cubs. However, Arctic foxes, for example, can have up to 15 cubs. It depends on specific species, but in general, the mating seasons of foxes start in January. Around this time, they go off and start looking for a place to give birth.
Vixens are excellent diggers and can build unbelievably structured burrows underground. Their underground homes are called “dens” or “earth”. Most likely, the vixen will have a den that she uses every year. However, if not, they will start to either build their own or even steal other animals’ dens.
When they have a lactating period, the nipples of vixens are obvious, and their belly gets the color of brick. Vixens choose the place very carefully. They usually prefer the banks, woodlands, or under the drystone walls. If they are near urban areas, they may also choose to live under sheds or buildings.
The fox cubs are born deaf, blind, and not able to even maintain the appropriate body temperature. So, vixens are perfect mothers in this situation and stay by the baby’s side for a few weeks. They have to make sure that newborns are fed and warm.
Generally, foxes are considered solitary animals and live alone unless they have cubs. Most of the time, they are seen as a small group during the breeding season. In the average group, there is a tod, a vixen, and a few other female foxes “helpers.” While the female takes care of the small ones, the other adult foxes provide them with food. In addition to this, the helper foxes are providers too.
It does not always happen, but when foxes are living as a social group, the average size of the family can be up to three or four adults. The family normally consists of an equal number of Tods and Vixens. However, despite this fact, only one vixen will breed.
How To Tell Apart Vixens And Tods?
It is already clear what is a female fox called. However, another question arises, and that is what are male foxes called? Female and male foxes can be pretty different from one another. They can exhibit pretty obvious external and behavioral differences. The first main factor is their weight. Vixens are relatively lighter in weight in comparison to Tods. If females can weigh up to 4.5 kilograms, males can reach up to 5.4 kilograms.
Eventually, one of the main differences is in their genitals. Female foxes do not have a penile sheath and their genitals are not visible. It is mostly hidden under the fur. In addition to that, during the lactating period, vixens also have visible nipples to feed their offspring.
Some research shows that in the species of red foxes, gray foxes, and fennec foxes, the females are slightly shorter than the males. Also, males come with larger skull sizes. In some cases, such as for red foxes, the males have bigger teeth in comparison to vixens. As for the behavioral differences, males tend to exhibit aggression and mark their territory with urine.
What Are Different Female Animals Called
We already discussed what is a female fox called and that is Vixen. However, it is also interesting to know what other female animals are called. As you must have already noticed, almost all species and varieties have different names to describe their gender. Some of them can be pretty strange too, or they are not used as much. For example, how many times have you heard someone calling a turkey “Gobbler”? Calling the ferret a “hob” can also be pretty rare, right?
Did you know that female bears were referred to as sows? For the cat, it is the “Queen,” and how well does it describe the cat’s personality, right? Similar to the vixen, a female dog’s or wolf’s name “bitch” is also used as an insulting word.
Why Do Vixens Scream At Night?
If you have heard female foxes screaming, well, you will agree that it is undoubtedly terrifying to hear. The truth is that vixens scream at night, and their sounds can be compared to a woman screaming. They tend to scream to let the males know they are ready for mating. Tods usually answer the scream with a sound that is somewhat similar to the dog’s barking.
Bottom Line – What Is A Female Fox Called?
Female foxes truly are inspiring creatures and have many distinctive behavioral and visual traits. They can be perfect mothers for their cubs and will do everything to keep them safe and sound. “Vixen” – this is what is a female fox called. However, despite many positive traits in the female fox, this word still has a bad reputation and is often used to insult the person.