Investigation of the debated question of the colour phases of
Colour foxes has produced definite information regarding its occur-
Phases rence. The fact that the cross, silver, black and red colours are all colour phases of the common red fox is of too common knowledge to warrant the citing of the many cases examined for evidence. The colours all exist and why they exist may be left to the discussion of biologists, some of whom say that ages ago foxes were originally dark coloured and that the silver is atavistic. It will be more useful in this discussion to describe how the darker colour is produced from red parents.
A summary of the facts may be given as follows:
I. Silver parents always produce silver pups—never red or cross pups. (See possible exception below.)
Red parents mostly produce red, but, occasionally, some cross pups and even a small proportion of silver pups is produced.
Usually cross (patched) parents produce cross pups.
When a silver and a pure red are bred, they produce red pups with blacker markings on the belly, neck and points than the red parent. The pups are about of the colour known as `bastard.'
When a bastard red fox and a silver are mated the litter is on the average 50 per cent silver and 50 per cent red.
Bastard red parents often produce a black or silver pup in a litter—the proportion of silver being about one out of four.
The exceptions to the above rules are that sometimes the colours do not segregate, but rather blend, as in roan cattle when red and white hairs are intermixed and not separated into distinct patches. Cross foxes are produced by mating a red and a silver and, sometimes, an intermediate colour is secured in the pups.
Thus, in some districts, every combination of the red, white and black colours of foxes is found. There are foxes which are:
Red.—Red above and white below, with dark points. RED Bastard.—Red above and dark below and on the neck, with
Poor Cross.—Mostly red and dark as above with a silver CROSS patch down the back and over the sholders and
Patch Good Cross.—Red on the sides, neck and ears, dark below
and silvery over the back, shoulders and rump.