Foxes and Coyotes

Foxes

Foxes are found around the world in many diverse habitats, including grasslands, mountains, forests, deserts, and the arctic. Red foxes are the species found in Illinois, and can be found in both rural and suburban areas. Foxes have adapted well to living in human-dense areas, as they are very resourceful and opportunistic; while they still keep their distance form humans, they are no stranger to stealing scraps, rummaging through garbage, and finding shelter around sheds and wood heaps.

Foxes are solitary hunters, and are omnivores, feasting on rodents, birds, fruits, vegetables, insects, worms, snakes, etc.  They are not picky about their food and will eat nearly anything they can get their paws on! Foxes are intense predators, having intent hearing and a quiet, sneaky demeanor. They are also able to use the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint the exact location of prey under snow or underground, leaving it nearly impossible for prey to escape once a fox has fixated itself on the animal.

Unique tails aid the fox in balance, warmth, and as an appendage with which to signal other foxes. Mating season is in the winter, when resources are scarce, and pups are born in the spring, when resources are more plentiful. A typical litter consists of 2-6 pups, and both parents take care of them until the fall season, when the pups go off on their own.

Coyotes

Coyotes have adapted well to expanding human habitats; they commonly roam around forests, prairies, and mountains, but it is not unusual to see them around farms or suburban houses. They are omnivores, and eat nearly anything–including rodents, rabbits, fish, insects, fruit, vegetation, snakes, and deer.  Coyotes are considered a nuisance in many areas, due to also hunting farm animals and pets. They are stealthy, fast animals with sharp eyesight and a strong sense of smell, making them one of the top predators in North America. They are also capable of swimming. Due to being such a fierce predator, their population has reached its highest numbers across the country.

Coyotes are social animals, and typically hunt and travel in packs that contain a strict social hierarchy.  Mating occurs during the late fall/early winter when resources are less plentiful, and the pups are born in the spring when resources are plentiful. An average litter contains 2-6 pups. Parents share in the parenting responsibilities, in addition to sharing the responsibility of protecting the pups and territory. After weaning, the pups stay with the pack, and are able to assist with hunting by fall. Coyotes reach sexual maturity and full growth between 9-12 months of age, but do not begin to mate until 2 years of age. Once the pups reach breeding age, they typically go off on their own to find mates and develop their own packs; however, this is not always the case, as they sometimes stay with their current pack.