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Vulpes vulpes laying in snow.jpg
Reid Tod (Vulpes vulpes)
Scienteefic clessification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

Tods are smaw-tae-medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging tae several genera o the Canidae faimily. Tods are slichtly smawer than a medium-size domestic dug, wi a flattened skull, upright triangular lugs, a pyntit, slichtly upturned snout, an a lang bushy tail (or brush).

Twelve species belong tae the monophyletic group o Vulpes genus o "true tods". Approximately anither 25 current or extinct species are always or whiles cried tods; these tods are either pairt o the paraphyletic group o the South American tods, or o the ootlyin group, which consists o bat-eared tod, gray tod, an island tod.[1] Tods are foond on every continent except Antarctica. Bi far the maist common an widespread species o tod is the reid tod (Vulpes vulpes) wi aboot 47 recognised sub-species.[2] The global distribution o tods, thegither wi thair widespread reputation for cunning, haes contreibutit tae thair prominence in popular culture an folklore in mony societies aroond the warld. The huntin o tods wi packs o hounds, lang an established pursuit in Europe, especially in the Breetish Isles, wis exportit bi European settlers tae various pairts o the New Warld.

Biology[eedit | eedit soorce]

Fox skeleton

General morphology[eedit | eedit soorce]

Tods are generally smawer than ither members o the faimily Canidae such as wolves, jackals, an domestic dugs. For example, in the lairgest species, the reid tod, males weigh on average atween 4.1 and 8.7 kg (9.0 and 19.2 lb),[3] while the smallest species, the fennec tod, weighs juist 0.7 to 1.6 kg (1.5 to 3.5 lb).[4] Fox-lik features teepically include a triangular face, pyntit lugs, an elangatit rostrum, an a bushy tail. Tods are digitigrade, an thus, walk on thair taes. Unlik thair dug relatives, tod claws are partially retractable.[5] Tod vibrissae, or whiskers, are black. The whiskers on the muzzle, mystaciae vibrissae, average 100-110mm lang, while the whiskers everywhere else on the heid average tae be shorter in lenth. Whiskers (carpal vibrissae) are an aa foond on the forelimbs an average tae be 40mm lang, pyntin downward an backward.[2] Ither physical characteristics vary accordin tae habitat an its adaptive significance.

Pelage[eedit | eedit soorce]

Tod species differ in fur colour, lenth, an density. Coat colors range frae pearly white tae black an white tae black flecked wi white or grey on the underside. Fennec tods (an ither species o tod adapted tae life in the desert, such as kit tods), for example, hae lairge lugs an short fur tae aid in keepin the body cuil.[2][5] Arctic tods, on the ither haund, hae tiny lugs an short limbs as well as thick, insulating fur, which aid in keepin the body warm.[6] Reod tods, bi contrast, hae a teepical auburn pelt, the tail normally ending wi white merking.[7] A tod's coat colour an textur mey vary due tae the chynge in seasons; tod pelts are richer an denser in the caulder months an lighter in the warmer months. Tae get rid o the dense winter coat, tods moult ance a year aroond Aprile; the process begins frae the feet, up the legs, an then alang the back.[5] Coat colour mey an aa chynge as the individual ages.[2]

Denteetion[eedit | eedit soorce]

A tod's denteetion, lik aw ither Canids, is I 3/3, C 1/1, PM 4/4, M 3/2 = 42. (Bat-eared tods hae sax extra molars, totaling in 48 teeth.) Tods hae pronoonced carnassial pairs, which is characteristic o a carnivore. These pairs consist o the upper premolar an the lawer first molar, an wirk thegither tae shear tough material lik flesh. Tods' canines are pronoonced, an aa characteristic o a carnivore, an are excellent in gripping prey.[8]

Behavior[eedit | eedit soorce]

Arctic tod curled up in snaw

In the wild, the teepical lifespan o a tod is ane tae three years, awtho individuals mey live up tae ten years. Unlik mony canids, tods are nae always pack ainimals. teepically, thay live in smaw faimily groups, but some (Arctic tods) are kent tae be solitary.[2][5] Tods are omnivores.[9][10] The diet o tods is largely made up o invertebrates such as insects, an smaw vertebrates such as reptiles an birds, an an aa can include eggs an plants. Mony species are generalist predators, but some (such as the crab-eating tod) hae mair specialised diets. Most species o tod consume aroond 1 kg (2.2 lb) o fuid every day. Tods cache excess fuid, buryin it for later consumption, uisually unner leaves, snow, or soil.[5][11] Tods tend tae uise a pouncing technique whaur thay crouch doun tae camouflage themselves in the terrain, then uisin thair hind legs, leap up wi great force tae land on tap o thair targeted prey.[2] Uisin thair pronoonced canine teeth, tods grip on tae thair prey's neck an either shake until the prey is dead, or until the animal can be disemboweled.[2] The gray tod is ane o anly twa canine species kent tae climb trees; the ither is the raccoon dug.

Sexual characteristics[eedit | eedit soorce]

The male tod's scrotum is held close tae the body wi the testes inside even efter thay descend. Lik ither canines, the male tod haes a baculum, or penile bane.[2] The testes o reid tods are smawer than those o Arctic tods.[12] Sperm formation in reid tods begins in August–September, wi the testicles attainin thair greatest wecht in December–Februar.[13]

Vixens are in heat for ane tae sax days, makin thair reproductive cycle twelve months lang. As wi ither canines, the ova are shed during estrus wioot the need for the stimulation o copulating. Ance the egg is fertilized, the vixen enters a period o gestation that can last frae 52 tae 53 days. Tods tend tae hae an average litter size o fower tae five wi an 80 percent success rate in acomin pregnant.[2][14] Litter sizes can vary greatly accordin tae species an environment – the Arctic tod, for example, can hae up tae eleven kits.[15]

The vixen haes fower pairs o teats. Each teat haes 8 tae 20 lactiferous ducts, which connect the mammary gland tae the nipple, allouin for milk tae be carried tae the nipple.

Vocalization[eedit | eedit soorce]

The tod's vocal repertoire is vast:

  • Whine- Made shortly efter birth. Occurs at a heich rate when cubs are hungry an when thair body temperaturs are low. Whinin stimulates the mither tae care for her young; it an aa has been kent tae stimulate the male tod intae carin for his mate an cubs.
  • Yelp- Made aboot 19 days later. The cubs' whining turns intae infantile berks, yelps, which occur hivily during play.
  • Explosive caw- At the age o aboot ane month, the cubs can emit an explosive caw which is intendit to be threatenin tae intruders or ither cubs; a heich pitch howl.
  • Combative caw- In adults, the explosive caw acomes an open-moothed combative caw during ony conflict; a sharper bark.
  • Growl- An adult tod's indication tae their cubs tae feed or heid tae the adult's location.
  • Berk- Adult tods wairn against intruders an in defense bi berkin.[2][16]

In the case o domesticatit tods, the whinin seems tae remain in adult individuals as a sign o excitement an submission in the presence o thair owners.[2]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. Macdonald, edited by David W.; Sillero-Zubiri, Claudio (2004). The biology and conservation of wild canids (Nachdr. d. Ausg. 2004. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 49. ISBN 0198515561. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Lloyd, H.G. (1981). The red fox (2. impr. ed.). London: Batsford. p. 21. ISBN 0 7134 11902. 
  3. Larivière, S. & Pasitschniak-Arts, M. (1996). "Vulpes vulpes". Mammalian Species: No. 537, pp. 1–11. doi:10.2307/3504236. 
  4. Nobleman, Marc Tyler (2007). Foxes. Benchmark Books (NY). pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0-7614-2237-2. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Burrows, Roger (1968). Wild fox. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 9780715342176. 
  6. "Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus)". ARKive. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  7. Fox, David. "Vulpes vulpes, red fox". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  8. "Canidae". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  9. Fedriani, J.M.; T. K. Fuller; R. M. Sauvajot; E. C. York (2000-07-05). "Competition and intraguild predation among three sympatric carnivores" (PDF). Oecologia 125 (2): 258–270. doi:10.1007/s004420000448. PMID 24595837. 
  10. Fox, David L. (2007). "Vulpes vulpes (red fox)". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. 
  11. Macdonald, David W. (26 April 2010). "Food Caching by Red Foxes and Some Other Carnivores". Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 42 (2): 170–185. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.1976.tb00963.x. 
  12. Heptner & Naumov 1998, p. 341
  13. Heptner & Naumov 1998, p. 537
  14. Parkes, I. W. Rowlands and A. S. (21 August 2009). "The Reproductive Processes of certain Mammals.-VIII. Reproduction in Foxes (Vulpes spp.).". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 105 (4): 823–841. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1935.tb06267.x. 
  15. Hildebrand, Milton (1952). "The Integument in Canidae". Journal of Mammalogy 33 (4): 419–428. doi:10.2307/1376014. JSTOR 1376014. 
  16. Tembrock, Günter. "Canid vocalizations". Behavioural Processes 1 (1): 57–75. doi:10.1016/0376-6357(76)90007-3.