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Foxes treat different prey species in a variety of ways, eating, burying, or discarding them on the basis of preference. Because foxes often utilize cached food and because they can remember which prey species is in a given cache the preference effect can be longstanding. Evidence from the literature suggests that comparable effects of preference for different species of small mammals affects the diet of wild foxes and their behaviour in the same way as demonstrated in these experiments. Certain distastes appear common to all foxes and most carnivores, for instance, insectivore and carnivore meat, in particular that of their own species. An incidence of active cannibalism by a fox is reported. The effect of food preference is shown to change during the course of one individual's life perhaps as a consequence of such factors as rearing cubs and competition for food. One effect of the behavioural consequences of food preference is to defer the decision of what to eat. That the fox will kill animals that it does not eat means that populations of animals that are not strictly fox prey are still at risk from fox predatory activity. Copyright © 1977, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

Original publication




Journal article


Mammal Review

Publication Date





7 - 23