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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax

Map to our office

K-State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Johnson County Extension at (913)715-7000. Notify staff of accommodation needs as early as possible.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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The Red Fox

Cunning, clever, sly, and swift are adjectives used to describe a critter that is actually very common in Johnson County. Our office receives many questions about these animals, and we get to hear the reports of sightings throughout the early spring. Some people are ecstatic to get see one and some people are worried about the safety of their pets and children. Both are appropriate reactions.

Have you guessed what animal I’m talking about yet? The red fox is more commonly found in eastern Kansas but can be found statewide. They take their shelter in the suburban transition between city and rural. This provides them plenty of prey but also protects them from predators, such as coyotes. And since Johnson County has a high percentage of the suburban landscape, we have plenty of red foxes to go around.

The reason why the red fox is such a commonly talked about topic in April is that is usually when a female gives birth to her young. Most mating takes place in January and February and gestation lasts 52 days. An average litter is four to six kits. They are born blind, deaf and without teeth. We start to see kits emerge from their nests at about four weeks of age, and they will be weaned from the mother between six and seven weeks.

While the kits are young, the male provides most of the food for the family. After ten weeks of age, the kits go with the parents on hunting trips to learn and perfect their skills. In the fall, when the kits are close to full-grown and able to fend for themselves, the grown kits move on and move out from their parents. Foxes are typically solitary creatures until they come together for breeding again in the winter.

The typical diet of the red fox consists of rodents, rabbits, insects, berries, birds and carrion. They are great predators for the squirrels and rabbits that plague Johnson County gardeners. They are prey to dogs, coyotes, bobcats and also commonly a victim of roadway traffic.

It is important to remember that red foxes are wild animals, and as such, need to be treated with caution and kept at a distance. They are good at providing for themselves in our suburban neighborhoods. Leaving food or water is actually more harmful than good. They learn to rely on humans and to become less afraid of human activity.

While most of our red fox population is used to seeing humans come and go, they will usually keep their distance and only let you watch but not approach. An animal that feels threatened will either run away or stand their ground. They become defensive and aggressive depending on the situation. Watching from a distance is the best course of action.

If you have small pets in the home and have noticed a fox family in your backyard, keep your pets indoors or only allow them outdoors under strict supervision. Our pets are generally curious creatures and will want to check out the fox family. Keeping our pets from investigating will prevent the fox family from becoming aggressive to protect itself from the perceived threat. Small pets can also be easy prey, so keeping your small dogs and cats under closer supervision should prevent any unfortunate accidents.

The same goes for children. Remind them that wild animals need to be kept at a distance. It is incredibly rare for a fox to bite a human, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you are schooling from home, making daily observations about the fox kits' growth and activity can be a great science lesson.

Our red fox population provides valuable control over garden and lawn pests and can be incredibly entertaining to watch. They will move on in a few short months, so keep an eye on them while you can!

Contact Us

Amy Keigher

Natural Resources Agent