The Ecology of Red Foxes, Vulpes vulpes, in Metropolitan Toronto, Ontario: Disease Management Implications

Rick Rosatte, Mike Allan


During 1989-1992, 33 Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were fitted with radio-collars in metropolitan Toronto to study their behaviour which would provide data to assist with the design of a rabies control strategy for urban areas of Ontario. Annual home range size for adult foxes (avg = 325 ha, SD = 207) was significantly larger than that of juvenile foxes (avg = 165 ha, SD = 176), but we could not detect any seasonal differences in home range size for foxes. Mean (SD) nightly ranges were 38.3 ha (48.3) in spring, 97.4 ha (115.4) in summer, 26.8 ha (28.5) in fall, and 16.3 ha (13.6) in winter. Movements by foxes during the period from June to November averaged 3.5 km (2.89). Eleven of the foxes were known to have dispersed (? 3 km from their home range), but we could not detect a mean direction of dispersal. Thirty-six percent (4/11) of the foxes dispersed in December and 18% (2/11) dispersed in August, with the remainder dispersing between February and November. Average dispersal distance was 19.3 km (15.6), and a significant negative correlation was detected between initial home range size and dispersal distance of foxes. Mortality of radio-collared foxes was caused by collisions with automobiles, predation, and shooting. Foxes made extensive use of ravines and other greenbelt areas, such as parks and golf courses. Residential areas were also used by some foxes. Knowledge of the habitats frequented by foxes as well as their movement potential assisted researchers in determining where vaccine baits should be placed for the control of rabies in Red Foxes in metropolitan Toronto.


Red Fox; Vulpes vulpes; home range; movements; metropolitan Toronto; Ontario

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