Red Fox- Vulpes vulpes
Social Habits
Body Language

In How To Spot A Fox, J. David Henry points out that unlike dogs and wolves, foxes do not snarl. Because foxes are largely solitary animals, they run into fewer "close-in" situations where a repertoire of facial expressions is useful for communication. Regardless, foxes do encounter one another on occasion and therefore need a more immediate way to express themselves than through scent marking alone. This is most often accomplished through body language. One area where scent and body language overlap is during a meeting ritual between related foxes. On the upper surface of the tail, one third the way down its length is a gland called the subcaudal gland. (Because it emits a flowery odour, it is sometimes called the violet gland.) When foxes greet a relative, they will often sniff each others subcaudal gland.

In other respects, vulpine body language is quite similar to that of canids in many ways (it is not clear from my reading whether foxes and dogs have inherited it from common ancestry, or whether this behaviour has coevolved.) Both animals tend to use the position of their tail, ears, mouth, and body to convey meaning.

Erect ears and a raised tail are signs of a confident or dominant fox, while flattened ears, a lowered tail, and a crouched position close to the ground indicate submission. Dogs and foxes exhibit the same "let´s play posture" - a lowered body with erect ears, a raised rump and tail. They also exhibit similar begging behaviour where pups and kits will nip at their parents mouths for food. Mr. Henry speculates that the colouring of foxes, particularly the black and white ears and the white tail tag, have evolved to make these displays more visible under poor light conditions.

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