30
$\begingroup$

They're not poisonous or anything, so it can't be aposematism. As far as I know it doesn't come from diet like the flamingo. They're not apex predators, so they can't get away with it (like tigers), and honestly it seems like a big risk factor given how many species prey upon them. As well as something that would make hunting more difficult for them. I understand they prefer dense brush, and I think hunting during low light hours, but orange against green is about as starkly contrasting as it gets. So does that just leave sexual selection? One of their sexes thinks it's pretty, basically? Or is there some other reason for it, one that might have something to do with the rest of the odd coloring?

$\endgroup$
  • 15
    $\begingroup$ The orange colour isn't really all that bright. Photographs that make them look intensely orange (such as this one on Wikimedia Commons) have typically had the colour saturation cranked right up (notice that grass in that photograph is unrealistically intense green). $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Aug 6 '17 at 20:46
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Most mammals don't have good color vision. They're dichromats rather than trichromats like primates (including humans). So you have to figure out what that red/orange color is going to look like to its dichromatic predators & prey. Orange on green might be good camoflage to them - consider tigers :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 7 '17 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ Consider also that foxes are mostly crepuscular hunters... the low light levels around dusk and dawn mean that the orange/green clash is even less important. So maybe it really is just down to foxes like a nice orange mate. $\endgroup$ – matt Aug 7 '17 at 8:39
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Of possibly partial interest (given what I thought you might be asking from the title of your question -- "Why is the Red Fox coloured bright orange") is that at one time, English didn't use the word "orange" for the colour we now recognise as orange. As this Wikipedia page notes, red deer, red hair and the robin red breast were all named "red" even though they were more orange than red. $\endgroup$ – TripeHound Aug 7 '17 at 9:37
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ The tiger doesn't just "get away with it" - it is very well camouflaged $\endgroup$ – josh Aug 7 '17 at 11:01
58
$\begingroup$

Their fur colour is actually a pretty good camouflage

enter image description here

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ Ahahaha, I love how simple, and yet indisputable, this answer is :D $\endgroup$ – Davor Aug 7 '17 at 9:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Good camouflage indeed $\endgroup$ – Izkata Aug 8 '17 at 0:21
3
$\begingroup$

The difference between the name and reality is a linguistic rather than a biological issue. The word "orange" is a relatively modern English word. In the past "red" would have been a term applied to other creatures which are also the same colour, the "red" squirrel for instance, along with people with copper coloured hair who are said to are "redheads" and not "orangeheads".

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ From the question title, I also thought he was asking about the naming, until I read the body. :) $\endgroup$ – JoL Aug 8 '17 at 0:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.