Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes schrencki)

21 February 2019. Betsukai–Cape Notsuke Lighthouse, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.

Two subspecies of this widespread Holarctic species are reported to occur in Japan. This is V. v. schrencki (a.k.a. Ezo Red Fox) which ranges from Sakhalin, Russia to Hokkaido in Northern Japan. It is characterized by larger size and black tips to its ears and limbs. It is replaced south of Blakiston’s Line (between Hokkaido and Honshu) by the smaller V. v. japonicus. A molecular study by Inoue et al (2007) confirmed the genetic differences between the two populations. A more recent analysis also confirmed the distinctiveness of V. v. schrencki and further suggested that the North American populations south and east of Alaska deserve status as a phylogenetic species V. fulva. Canon PowerShot SX60.


  • Vladimir Dinets

    V. v. japonicus also has black ears (AFAIK, all red fox subspecies do), but the paws are usually brown rather than black. As for the V. fulvus split, there were three range-wide studies of red fox genetics recently. Kutschera et al. (2013) found no reason for splitting. Statham et al. (2014) proposed splitting, but used PSC in its most unscientific form, and their own data contradict their suggestion. Finally, Black et al. (2018) provided conclusive evidence against the split.

  • Conuropsis

    Nice photos! I hope to see them when I go to Hokkaido with my wife someday. She saw one there when she was there with friends back in the late 90’s or early 2000’s.


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