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Among the Carnivora the presence of non-breeding adults within social groups seems to be widespread, and evidence is accumulating that these individuals sometimes contribute to the survival of young born to other group members who may, or may not, be their relatives1,2. I describe here studies of both wild and captive red foxes, Vulpes vulpes, and report that non-breeding vixens occur in fox groups in some habitats. These barren vixens are subordinate to the breeding females, and may feed, guard, groom and play with the cubs of the breeding vixen within their group. © 1979 Nature Publishing Group.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





69 - 71