The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

Diet of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in South-west New South Wales, with relevance to lamb predation.

IW Lugton

The Rangeland Journal 15(1) 39 - 47
Published: 1993


The diets of 212 foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in the far south-west of New South Wales were determined between 1985 and 1989 and compared with other Australian studies. Mammalian remains, at an overall occurrence of 99.1%, formed the basis of the diet during the autumn and winter months. The most frequently occurring mammals were rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) (34.9%), sheep (Ovis aries) (30.7%) and macropods (Macropus spp.) (20.3%). Insects occurred in 31.1% of stomachs and formed a substantial proportion of the diet. Fresh newborn lamb was identified in only 3.8% of all stomachs, but evidence of lamb consumption was 10 times greater (35.2%) from foxes collected near lambing flocks. Other studies around lambing flocks have also shown a high occurrence of fresh lamb in fox stomachs and there is circumstantial evidence that predation of lambs by foxes can be common. It was concluded that lamb predation is likely to be severe where the fox population density is high, where older foxes predominate, and where alternative preferred foods are scarce. More research is required to confirm these observations.

© ARS 1993

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