Reproduction of the Red Fox

            Reproduction is vital for an organism's existence. The red fox performs sexual reproduction which involves 2 parents, a male and a female, to occur. An advantage that the red fox has because of sexual reproduction is that there is variety within the organism, which means that for example, if one of the red foxes had a harmful genetic mutation, it wouldn't necessarily be passed down to its offspring whereas if the red fox reproduced asexually on its own,  the harmful gene would be automatically passed down because in asexual reproduction (which involves one parent only) the offspring has an identical genetic makeup to the parent. For sexual reproduction to occur, the gametes, or sex cells, need to conjoin in the process of fertilization. The female gametes are eggs, and the male gametes are sperm. Eggs are made in the process of oogenesis, while sperm is made in the process of spermatogenesis.
          Both the female and male red fox have specific organs for them to reproduce. The anatomy of the reproductive system of the red fox is very similar to one of a dog's. Here is a diagram representing the female reproductive system of the red fox!

The gamete, or egg, is created in the ovary. Once the egg is mature and ready to be fertilized, it travels through the oviduct, where fertilization takes place.  The oviduct then branches off into the uterine horn, where the oviduct and uterus meet. (1) The uterus is then where the fertilized egg will develop and grow. The cervix is where the sperm enters the body to fertilize the egg, and the vagina is the external opening out of the body through the genitals. The vagina alo contains many layers of mucous, which release mucous to trap bacteria and other harmful particles before they enter the body.  (2)
            Here is a diagram of the male reproductive system in the red fox!

The male gamete, sperm, is made the testicles (or testis as shown here). Red foxes also have an epididymis where they store sperm.When ejaculation occurs, sperm travels from the epididymis through the vas deferens to the prostate for the prostate to add other beneficial liquids to help the sperm exit the body and to nurture the sperm as well. This then makes a fluid called semen, which exits the body by travelling through the penis and leaving via the urethra.  (1) The red fox has two important structures that make up the whole penis that includes the glans penis. The glans penis is situated at the bottom of the penis, and it's a circular structure that expands when sexual intercourse occurs, thus making sure the penis stays in the vagina. Therefore, Internal fertilization occurs in the red fox.The scrotum, or scrotal sac as shown here, helps to regulate temperature in the red so the sperm can thrive in the testicles. (3)
                The red fox has 34 chromosomes found in all body cells, which are diploid. In the gametes, there are 17 chromosomes in each cell, which are haploid. (4)
                  The red is sexually mature at 9-10 months old. The red fox will court by having the males fight with each other to impress the female. This fighting can result in serious injuries, and even death. Most courtship takes place in the winter as well. (5)

After courtship, a female forms a bond with her male partner.

Mating Call of the Red Fox!

Development in the Red Fox

        The red fox spends about 3 months in the womb, and are mature at 7 months old. The red fox has a life expectancy of about 2-3 years as well. A female can have up to 4-6 kits in one litter, and there is extensive parental care.  (5)
        In the womb, the red fox is first a zygote, or fertilized egg, then a blastocyst, then an embryo, and then finally a fetus. A blastocyst is a zygote 5 or 6 days after fertilization occurs, in which the cells have been dividing constantly. An embryo is when organs and features begin to develop, and a fetus is the last stage before birth where the organs and features become fully formed. (6)

Two red fox kits.

A mother nursing her kits.