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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 33(4)

Home-range size and selection of natal den and diurnal shelter sites by urban red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Melbourne

Clive A. Marks A C, Tim E. Bloomfield A

A Nocturnal Wildlife Research Pty Ltd, PO Box 2126, Wattletree Rd RPO, East Malvern, Vic. 3145, Australia.
B Vertebrate Pest Research Department, Victorian Institute of Animal Science, PO Box 48, Frankston, Vic. 3199, Australia.
C Corresponding author.
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Selection of natal dens and diurnal shelters by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) was investigated within the metropolitan area of Melbourne. Of 72 natal dens, 61% were in residential, public park, school or industrial lands. Most dens were beneath buildings (44.4%) or in earth banks (30.6%). The habitat categories in which dens were sited did not differ significantly from those described for London. Dens were more common beneath weatherboard buildings and were associated with properties that did not contain domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). Diurnal shelter positions for 20 radio-collared foxes were obtained, and home-range data collected for 11 foxes. Estimated areas of adult home-range, for 100% minimum convex polygons (MCPs), varied between 11.5 and 45.8 ha, with from two to five diurnal shelter sites used in each home-range. Foxes showed a consistent preference for diurnal shelters associated with exotic weed infestations over ornamental and native vegetation or built habitats. Within these categories a diversity of substrates were used, including buildings, drains, graves, cypress trees, ornamental rockeries and garden beds. A preference for exotic weed infestations is an identifiable resource requirement for foxes in Melbourne and its removal may assist in reducing the abundance of urban foxes.

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