A fox is a member of any of 27 species of small omnivorous canids. The animal most commonly called a fox in the Western world is the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), although different species of foxes can be found on almost every continent. The presence of foxes all over the globe has led to their appearance in the popular culture and folklore of many nations, tribes, and other cultural groups.
Fox terminology is different from that used for most canids. Male foxes are known as dogs, tods or reynard, females are referred to as vixens, and their young are called kits or cubs, as well as pups. A group of foxes is a skulk. The eponymous name ‘Charlie’ is derived from Charles James Fox who was a disliked landowner in the 18th century.
Most foxes live 2-3 years but can survive for up to 10 years, or longer in captivity. With most species roughly the size of a domestic cat, foxes are smaller than other members of the family Canidae, such as wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs. Recognizable characteristics also include pointed muzzles and bushy tails. Other physical characteristics vary according to their habitat. For example, the Desert Fox has large ears and short fur, whereas the Arctic Fox has small ears and thick, insulating fur.
Unlike many canids, foxes are not pack animals. They are solitary, opportunistic feeders that hunt live prey (especially rodents). Using a pouncing technique practiced from an early age, they are usually able to kill their prey quickly. Foxes also gather a wide variety of other foods ranging from grasshoppers to fruit and berries.
Foxes are nearly always extremely wary of humans, and are not kept as pets, but the Silver Fox was successfully domesticated in Russia after a 45 year selective breeding program. However, foxes are to be readily found in cities and domestic gardens.