A red fox was spotted this weekend in the section of Toms River, making off with a brown duck in its mouth as its latest meal.
Resident Lindsey Calvo, on Anegada Avenue, spotted the fox at around 10:30 a.m. Sunday as she looked out the window.
“I was in my son’s room (Bobby, 4) with the blinds open because we like to watch the birds, and I saw this fox coming closer to the house,” Calvo said. She went to grab a camera but by the time she returned the fox had vanished.
“I then went outside to see where he was because now I could not let my dog outside,” she said in an email to Toms River Patch. “I looked around the neighbor’s car and saw the fox coming up the road with a black duck hanging from his mouth.”
She snapped some pictures of the fox as it walked through the neighborhood, an adult male duck clinched in its teeth.
With the large Shelter Cove park and nearby nature preserves nearby, the fox has hundreds of acres to scamper about. Cattus Island Park, which has a board listing recently spotted birds and animals in the park, recently listed a red fox.
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife reports the red fox is one of two fox species that live in the state, the other being the gray fox.
With the Latin name Vulpes vulpes, the red fox weighs about 8 to 15 pounds, according to the state DFW.
“Red foxes are strictly terrestrial and rarely enter water. Red foxes most often hunt and move about during evening, nighttime and early morning hours,” reports the state DFW on its site devoted to the species.
However, Calvo spotted the animal during the morning hours. After it grabbed a duck near Anegada Avenue, “The fox went back toward Bay Avenue probably to the woods across the street,” Calvo said.
Calvo said she wanted to spread the word about the animal, because the neighborhood is full of pets and small children.
“We want to make sure families are aware that there is a fox or a family of foxes in the neighborhood and to keep an eye on their children and pets at all times,” Calvo said.
How long has the fox been in the area?
“I let my neighbors know and one said that this fox has been around the neighborhood for about two months but she did not think anyone got any pictures till today,” Calvo said. “Another neighbor said that a fox also came around and took a brown duck from protecting her eggs Sunday afternoon.”
Red foxes are considered “nonspecific predators” according to the state DFW, meaning they’ll eat a variety of food: birds, rodents, eggs, and carrion, but also fruits, berries, and insects.
Unlike wolfs, the red fox doesn’t travel in packs, and its breeding season ends in April, according to the state DFW. A litter averages at five pups, and the animals live in dens and will often travel as far as a 7.5 mile-radius from the den.
According to the state DFW: “Family groups and/or individuals use a main earthen den and often other emergency burrows in their home range. Foxes often take over and utilize dens of other animals, such as woodchucks. The dens may be enlarged during the winter and prior to birth and rearing of the young. Several generations of foxes will often use the same den site.”
Though there is some debate whether the foxes are native to New Jersey or are instead derived from a European red fox, regardless the fox is easily identified by its red pelt.
Among the other distinguishing characteristics, says the state DFW:
- Pointed ears
- Slender muzzle
- Slanted eyes
- Bushy and unusually long tail
- Small dog size
- Yellow eyes of mature animals
- Orange-red coloration on head, sides and back.
- Gray or white on underside