Some red foxes have genetic mutations which change the color of their fur. The typical red foxes we are used to seeing in urban London and its rural suburbs are, you guessed it... red.
However there have been several sightings of a black fox in Halifax, West Yorkshire. We can confirm this is in fact an urban red fox with a rare genetic glitch (that dates back hundreds of years) and both parents have to carry the rarer recessive melanic gene to create the rare black coat.
"The hair color of Red Foxes may vary in shade from a light-yellowish tone to deep auburn-red, and some are an entirely different color—black, silver (black with white hair tips), or red with black across the shoulders.
As if that wasn’t enough color variation for the “Red” Fox, there are also several genetic mutations. So, you can’t always expect to identify a Red Fox by its hair color. However, here’s one tell-tale tip, so to speak, that makes it pretty conclusive: The tip of their bushy tail is almost always white." https://www.welcomewildlife.com/red-fox/
The unusual colouring is normally seen on growing cubs before the fox develops its dark chestnut coat.
Former zookeeper Hayley de Ronde, spokeswoman for Black Foxes UK, said: "We have a suspicion that the most recent sighting is the same fox and a relative of the famous Black Fox Bob.
"There is certainly a higher concentration of melanism in the area than you would expect.
"It is also possible that the appearance of melanism in UK foxes is natural and it is topography and inbreeding that is keeping the gene expressed in small communities.
"Melanistic animals are naturally bolder than their non melanistic counterparts, and now breeding season is over and weaning is about to begin it may be that the fox just felt the need to take advantage of what peoples gardens had to offer."
These are the rarest animal in Britain, partly because they were extensively hunted for their fur in the past (barbaric, we know). The recent flurry of sighting has raised hopes there is a breeding pair in the area, possibly descendants of the famous Black Fox Bob.
Credit: SWNS:South West News Service
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