The food of suburban foxes (Vulpes vulpes), with special reference to London

Authors

  • STEPHEN HARRIS

    1. Department of Zoology, Royal Holloway College, Englefield Green, Surrey TW20 9TY
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    • *Department of Zoology, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG


Abstract

The food of foxes in suburban London was examined using stomach contents and den litter analysis. A great diversity of food was taken. Adult foxes killed nearer to the city centre were found to eat significantly fewer earthworms, domestic pets and wild mammals, but more scavenged food items, than foxes killed closer to the suburban fringe. Cubs killed closer to the city centre ate significantly fewer earthworms and insects, and more pet birds, pet mammals and scavenged food items than cubs killed nearer the periphery of the suburban area. Although seasonal trends in food selection were apparent, they were not as pronounced as those observed in studies of rural foxes. At no time of the year did a single food item predominate in the diet of adult foxes. Passeriformes were the most important single food item in the diet of young cubs, but there was no correlation between the number of Passeriformes eaten and their abundance, nor between annual changes in the abundance of small birds and mean fox birth litter size and productivity. Most foxes examined were in good body condition; there was no seasonal variation in body weight, although fat content did vary seasonally. A complementary survey in Bristol on losses of domestic pets to foxes revealed that 07% of pet cats and 80% of other pets kept outdoors were killed in a year. Damage to garden Crops was negligible.

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