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Dec 26

Fox Appreciation Day

Red Fox
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Red Foxes
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"The flatterer lives at the expense of those who will listen to him."

~ The Fox & the Crow, Aesop's Fables (620-564 BCE)

Foxes appear throughout folklore from their long and competitive association with humans. Examples include the nine-tail fox from various Asian cultures; the Reynard tales from medieval Europe; the sly trickster fox from Native American lore; and Aesop's "The Fox and the Crow." The Finnish believed a fox made the Northern Lights by running in the snow so that its tail swept sparks into the sky. From this, we get the phrase "fox fires" (though "Firefox," like the Mozilla internet browser, actually refers to the red panda). 🦊

Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica and thrive in cities, towns, and rural settings. The red fox is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed carnivores.

Foxes are part of the Canidae family, which means they're related to wolves, jackals, and dogs. They're medium-sized, between 7 and 15 pounds, with pointy faces, lithe frames, and bushy tails. But unlike their relatives, foxes are not pack animals. When raising their young, they live in small families called a "leash of foxes" or a "skulk of foxes" in underground burrows. Otherwise, they hunt and sleep alone.

The word "fox" comes from Old English, which itself derives from earlier forms meaning thick-haired or tail.  The bushy tail also forms the basis for the fox's Welsh name, llwynog, literally 'bushy', from llwyn 'bush'. 

The species has a long history of association with humans, having been extensively hunted as a pest and furbearer for many centuries, as well as being represented in human folklore and mythology.​

In Greek mythology, the Teumessian fox or Cadmean vixen, was a gigantic fox that was destined never to be caught. ​In Celtic mythology, the red fox is also a symbolic animal. 

 

In the Cotswoldswitches were thought to take the shape of foxes to steal butter from their neighbours. 

 

And in later European folklore, the figure of Reynard the Fox symbolises trickery and deceit. This character appeared in European stories and then appeared in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Nun's Priest's Tale. Many of Reynard's adventures may stem from actual observations on fox behaviour; he is an enemy of the wolf and has a fondness for blackberries and grapes.

The cunning Fox is commonly found in Native American mythology, where it is portrayed as an almost constant companion to Coyote. Fox, however, is a deceitful companion that often steals Coyote's food. 

This tartan, designed by Carol A.L. Martin, uses the beautiful colours of the red fox.

For one of the classic Aesop fables involving the fox, click the foxes.