The Fox (Styrásh: shir, Shir) is a bushy-tailed, long-snouted creature similar to dogs and wolves. There are three basic species of Foxes from which other sub-breeds are divided into. These species include the Desert Fox (semershir, Semershir), the Red Fox (arshir, Arshir), the Grey Fox (raoshir, Raoshir), and the Winter Fox (wynshir, Wynshir). Foxes are known for being quick and smart, which is where their elven named is derived from ("shiren" is Styrásh for “clever”). Foxes can be found almost anywhere, from the cold tundra of Northern Sarvonia to the harsh deserts of the Ráhaz'Dáth and even in Aeruillin and Nybelmar.

The Red Fox or Arshir

View picture in full size Image description. The Red Fox, also referred to as Arshir. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

Appearance. The Fox resembles small, slender dogs, though many say they have an almost cat-like quality to them. All species of the Fox are around the same size, roughly 60 to 70 nailbreadths long, not including the tail, which adds an additional 35 to 40 nailsbreadths to the length. Usually these agile creatures weigh anywhere from 6 to 11 ods, or sometimes even less.

Foxes tend to have elongated noses as compared to other canine animals, at the end of which is a small black nose that is fairly sensitive to smell. They typically have large ears, which give them keen hearing. The eyes of the Fox look out from either side of the snout, and are actually very cat-like in shape. The colour of the eyes differs depending on breed.

The Fox has slender legs at the ends of which are fairly small paws. A Fox has five small toes on each front foot, but the first tow is underdeveloped, typically, and does not reach the ground. The hind legs have only four toes. When the Fox trots or walks, its hind paws usually step in the tracks of the front paws. They carry their bushy tails straight backward when running, but lets it droop when at a walk. The tail is also curled around the animal, covering its nose, when the creature sleeps.

The colour of the coat as well as the region define what group a fox is classified in. Types of Foxes are as follow:

Special Abilities. The Fox has extremely good hearing, gained by its large ears. A Red Fox can hear a mouse squeak from 30 peds away! Also, being part of the dog family, it has an amazing sense of smell, which helps them track food and avoid danger. Though Shir are able to see objects that move quickly, they tend not to notice objects that are standing still, which can sometimes make it difficult for them to see predators or traps.

Most Foxes are well adapted to their environment. The Desert Fox (Semershir) for example, which live in arid deserts and dry lands, have large, thin ears that help them to cool their blood off after a long chase. In this way, they don’t overheat despite their coats. The Wynshir of Northern Sarvonia can avoid freezing by growing a winter coat when the weather begins to get cold. Overall, all Foxes are clever and agile, quick and cunning, and famous for such qualities.
Return to the top

Territory. Shir can be found all over the continent of Sarvonia and on the continent of Aeruillin. They like open spaces, usually in plains or heaths, but are also fond of hilly places. They like places where there are many rodents for them to catch and for them to steal holes from. Foxes like to make their dens by extending the holes of rodents such as ground kuatu and other such creatures. However, they are not limited to building their dens in the old homes of rodents. They will also make their dens in caves, among rocks, or in or under fallen trees. Most Foxes, however, make their dens from old burrows.

A den can be as long as 23 peds and have several entrances. These dens must be big, as most Foxes live together in small communities. The main entrance usually leads all the way through the den and has many little chambers off of it where there are places for resting and storing food. These dens, apart from being used as a sleeping place and for storing food, can also serve defensive purposes, yielding itself to a great place to hide. Most Shir, however, won’t make a den until they plan to settle and make a family.
Return to the top

Habitat/Behaviour. Foxes are fairly social creatures for the most part, but don’t form packs the way wolves do. Families will usually live together in one den with a mother, father, and the children. However, eventually the children, once they are old enough, will be sent off to make room for a new litter and to find a den and mate of their own. Until they do find a mate, Shir are very solitary animals. However, once two Shirs have become a mate, they are extremely close, and will often play together and hunt in cooperation. They are also protective of each other, and if an enemy is chasing one of them, the other will help in chasing the pursuer away.

Foxes have a complicated and intricate communication system of yips and growls, as well as yelps and yapping barks. Though Shir are, for the most part, sociable, they do make territories for themselves to tell other Shir that the space is occupied. They will usually mark their territory using urine.
Return to the top

Diet. Foxes commonly prefer rodents, such as mice, rats, rabbits, etc. but will eat anything that they can catch with relative ease. They will also hunt and eat birds, lizards, insects, frogs, and other such animals. Many farmers dislike Shir because they will often sneak into their taenish coops and kill one or two during the night. However, Foxes are indispensable in keeping the rodent population at bay. The Shir are also great scavengers. Most predators will kill a prey and bury it for later. However, with their sensitive noses, the Foxes can easily sniff out these hidden remains. They will also eat fruits and seeds.

Foxes usually hunt at night and are active throughout the year. They creep through the tall grasses of meadows, sometimes pushing themselves on their hind legs to get a better view, listening for the sounds of rodents, especially mice, scurrying around in the darkness. Because of the size of mice, it is not often that a Shir can actually see them, but if they see the slight movement of a blade of grass, they will jump at that spot. They will also sometimes lie in wait for a rodent to leave its burrow and pounce on it as it does.
Return to the top

Mating. A male and female mate in late to mid autumn or early winter. Usually the male and female will mate for life, but if one of them dies, the other mate may seek out a new companion. After choosing their mate, the Shir typically makes a den for the family, if there isn’t one available. Depending on the breed, the gestation period may range anywhere from 50 to 80 days. The female Shir thus gives birth to her pups, or Shirlets, in late winter or early spring. The number of pups in a litter depends on the breeds. Common Foxes typically have between four to nine shirlets, while the Grey Fox (Raoshir) typically have between three and five. A Desert Fox (Semershir) may have between five and eight while the Winter fox (Wynshir) may have as many as 15 pups, though litters usually average 7.

A newborn fox is about 2.5 muts and is completely helpless. Its muzzle is short, and their eyes are closed. They look very similar to small dog pups, and some find it hard to tell a fox and a dog apart at this age. However, after about nine days, the eyes of the pup will open. The pups drink their mother’s milk for usually the first five weeks following their birth, though they will begin leaving the den at 3 weeks. After about four weeks, the pups begin eating meat and will start to hunt for themselves and by 6 weeks, are weaned off of their mother’s milk.

As they are growing up, Shirlets will often play, pouncing on sticks, leaves, insects, and their parents’ tails. Sometimes the parents will even bring small prey like mice back to the den alive to give the pups practice in their hunting. The parents teach their young how to stalk for prey, and in the late summer or early autumn following their birth, the young Fox will begin living on its own. The Foxes reach sexual maturity at about 9 to 10 months, and can live up to 14 years.
Return to the top

Usages. Though the meat of the Fox isn’t edible, the fur of this animal is very popular, especially among the high-class. The brilliant colour of the Red Fox is one of the most popular, but the blue, allia, and white coats of the Winter Fox are by far the most sought-after and the most highly prized. However, because of the dangerous terrain in which these Foxes live, the pelts of these creature are close to impossible to get. Most Shir are caught and killed for their fur with the use of traps.
Return to the top

Researchers. Foxes have been researched since before the first Sarvonian War. Their agility, cunning, and appealing appearance has lead to many recording observations of them or jotting down their appearance in journals. Being a common creature, especially in Santharia, they have been noted in all sorts of works. They are fairly easy to study and enjoyable to observe.

One of the most prominent researchers of Foxes is a Centoraurian named Calien Merindon, who is said to have stumbled upon a family of Raoshir living on his father’s estate in 1238 when his horse’s hoof crashes through the Shir’s den. Feeling so bad about what he’d done, he rebuilt the damaged den using parts of a broken-down carriage. He grew ever fascinated with the Fox that he began recording their behavior, going out at night with a candle and watching them, trying to observe them as they hunted. His notes were extremely detailed and precise.

By 1253, at the age of 32, he was known through much of Xaramon for his research, but felt unsatisfied with studying only one breed and traveled southward where he spent 18 years studying the Red Fox (Arshir). He published his findings in 1272 before moving southwards again where be began researching the Desert Fox (Semershir). However, after only five years into his studies of these Foxes, he had a stroke, which most attribute to the heat. He returned to his estate in 1278, where he lived until his death in 1281.

Calien Merindon is believed to have sparked a great deal of interest in the Fox, and many have since taken up the study of this fascinating creature. Return to the top

Information provided by Rayne Avalotus View Profile