De La Bleu Fox Reference Picture

SPECIES INFORMATION

General

De La Bleu Fox

Conservation status
Least Concern

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Tribe: Vulpini
Genus: Vulpes
Species: V. vicis

Binomial name
Vulpes vicis

The De La Bleu fox (Vulpes vicis) is a mammal of the order Carnivora. Their species name is of French origin, but was transcribed incorrectly by an English academic. In France & in French-speaking countries, the species is written as the De La Bleue fox.

De La Bleu foxes are among the most widespread of any terrestrial carnivore. Their ability to shapeshift provides them with a valuable tool for adaptability within their environment. Whilst De La Bleu foxes are often the apex predators in the environments they choose to dwell in, they are still vulnerable to attack from larger predators.

Distribution

De La Bleu Foxes inhabit every continent of the world, excluding Antarctica. They are generally well equipped to adapt to almost any kind of environment (and thus show physical variations depending on the environment in which they live in). They do tend to be more sparsely populated in areas where temperatures range to the extreme, or where food is scarce and difficult to find (such as extreme desert areas).

Physical description and lifespan

De La Bleu foxes are the largest foxes within the genus Vulpes. They may weigh up to an adult weight of 15 kg. Head and body length can range from 50cms to 114cms, with a tail length that can span from 40cms to 75cms. Sexual dimorphism in physical stature is noticeable but slight - females are smaller and more slender than males, which tend to be taller, heavier and stockier.

Like red foxes, their forepaws have five digits, while hind feet only have four and lack dewclaws. Their pupils are oval shaped and vertically oriented.

The De La Bleu fox is, as its name suggests, predominantly blue, although their colouration can range from cyan to violet. The 'blue' tone can also vary from very light to very dark. Cream, white, or a very light blue tend to mark their muzzles, chest, underbelly and the tip of their tail. Darker markings may mark their shoulders, ears, legs and tails. Ears are often marked with a distinctive black ear tip.

Markings do vary widely from fox to fox, and foxes may take on markings similar to the colour morphs found in red foxes.

Sexual dimorphism is present in the species. The male De La Bleu fox has a coat colour that favours darker tones of blue, whilst females have a coat colour that favour lighter tones of blue. However variations (light males and dark females) have been sighted.

Eye colour can vary widely, pawpads are usually pink or dark grey, and noses are usually grey, pink or black. Their fur is medium-length and quite soft to the touch; they will often grow a winter coat in the colder months of the year, shedding in the spring.

Their lifespan ranges from 50 to 60 years of age. Their ability to shapeshift corresponds with their age, peaking in the early 20s to mid-30s (where foxes find it easiest to shapeshift) and then rapidly declining (where foxes begin to find it difficult to shapeshift). By the age of 45, most foxes will have lost all ability to change form. The ability to shapeshift is an invaluable tool to survival, hence the scarcity of foxes who survive past the age of 50. The oldest recorded De La Bleu fox was a fox kept in a German zoo who was estimated to be 55 years of age, but in the wild it is uncommon for foxes to live so long.

Dietry habits

De La Bleu Foxes are largely carnivorous and favour rabbits, birds, rodents and deer (their fawns, unless hunting in a pair or family group where they can take down a full grown deer) as prey. They may also eat insects, crayfish, eggs, small reptiles and fish when given the chance, as well as fruits. They will also scavenge carrion, and in desperate times, will also eat from trash in urban areas. They will typically eat around 2kg of food each day. If they have excess, they will bury the food to save for harder times.

De La Bleu Foxes tend to hunt alone, and most utilise their shapeshifting ability while on the hunt (usually taking the form of their prey in order to get close to them), although most find it useful to shapeshift for the purpose of scavenging. Otherwise, they will stalk their prey until they are close enough to catch them in a short dash. De La Bleu Foxes are not endurance runners.

Behaviour

De La Blue Foxes are mostly crepuscular; most active at dawn and twilight. However, it can vary with the individual; some individuals lead a nocturnal lifestyle while others live diurnally.

They tend to be nomadic; they will claim a certain territory for a period of time, usually no longer than a few months, before moving on. They may stay for longer periods of time if food is plentiful.

De La Bleu Foxes lead mostly solitary lives, though it is not uncommon for some family groups (a mother and her offspring) to live together for some time.

Reproduction

De La Bleu foxes reproduce once a year, usually at the beginning of spring. They are considered monogamous for the period of time they choose to mate. The average litter size can be as little as 2 kits, or as many as 6. Males occasionally stay to rear the kits with the mother.

Kits will stay with their mother until they are around 16 years of age. Most kits will then leave their mother to lead separate lives, although many kits often return to their mother throughout their lives. Some kits do not leave their mother at all.

Inter-Family Reproduction

De La Bleu foxes are able to reproduce with any other mammal that belongs to the biological family Canidae. The products of these unions are known as crossed De La Bleu foxes. Offspring of inter-family unions have a 50% chance of being infertile.

The physical appearance of crossed De La Bleu foxes can vary widely, much like mixed-breed domestic dogs. The distinctive blue colour of the pure fox is dominant, however, so all crossed De La Bleu foxes tend to show at least some blue colouration.

All crossed De La Bleu foxes display some ability to shapeshift, though it is much diluted. Crossed De La Bleu foxes do not appear to easily shift at will unlike their pure counterparts. Often they will shift when frightened, startled, or in self-defence but otherwise may show no sign that they have the ability to shapeshift at all.

Shapeshifting

Shapeshifting is a trait indigenous only to De La Bleu foxes.

Shapeshifting is an inherited, recessive-blended trait, and crossbreeding can dilute this trait. De La Bleu Foxes tend to shapeshift into other animals for survival, often utilising it as a hunting technique. They will often mimic a prey animal, before surprising them by shifting back into a fox.

Foxes do not appear to have the ability to shift from one form to the next - that is, a fox would not be able to shift into a squirrel, and then instantly again to a rabbit. Foxes appear to have to shift into their base form before being able to shift again into another animal.

Most foxes are able to shift into any form they wish, although they have a tendency to keep distinctive markings while in that chosen form (for example, a De La Bleu fox with a dark face-mask will keep that dark-face mask in any other form). Exceptions have been recorded, with some foxes almost able to mimic another creature entirely, although this is a rarity.

Their ability to hold another form is affected by a number of factors. Exhaustion, pain, intoxication or poisoning can easily make a fox revert back to their true form.

Foxes are also able to shift into the form of a human. A pair of foxes kept in a London zoo took human shape several times. Their human form was distinctive in that it appeared that it was not a mimicry of any other human, but a form that was unique to the individual themselves.

It is known that some foxes, peculiarly, enjoy taking the form of another animal for excessive amounts of time, for reasons unknown. A research group following a family of foxes (a mother and her five offspring) over the period of two years witnessed one fox which would spend its time as a squirrel over many months. When it would attempt to rejoin its family, it was often chased away and rebuffed.

Shapeshifting is not subject to or restricted by time. Foxes may spend any amount of time in any given form, although their true form will always be that of a fox.

Relationships with humans

Due to the discovery that foxes can take human form, it is believed that De La Bleu foxes formed the basis of the mythology surrounding Japanese kitsunes and other fox-related folktale and lore.

Information concerning fox and human interaction is sparse and poorly documented. Most information relies on anecdotal evidence.

Many people have come forward over the years since the discovery of the De La Bleu fox to claim that they have been 'tricked' by a fox. Travellers speak of being lost and a man or woman coming forward to help, leading them astray before disappearing. Some glimpse the form of the fox before they flee. Such claims are impossible to verify, although the sheer number of reports must not be dismissed.

Some researchers claim that foxes may be living as humans, although again, such claims are impossible to verify and are poorly researched at best.
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