“The fox never found a better messenger than himself.”
During an unusual January thaw that saw warmer temps and pouring rain, we were witness to a fabulous sight, our resident red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the largest of the fox family and most widely seen throughout many parts of the world. We named him, Axl, and he has been lived in these parts for a while although elusive most of the time. What was most unusual was that he hung around the street travelling among the houses hunting as the snow had melted. Of course fox usually hunt at dusk and dawn, but not this fellow.
He didn’t seem to mind the pouring rain, with that gorgeous thick winter coat, even coming almost to the front porch as he sniffed for mice and voles. Voles are very plentiful here, and a preference we have seen for this fox. We have witnessed his incredible hunting techniques as he has taken rabbits as well. Hunting with snow cover does not stop him. It is amazing to watch his aerial launch and plunge into the snow. Red fox are also known to hunt small mammals, birds, reptiles, grasses, tubers and all kinds of fruits.
But today he was sniffing the spots where he knows the varmints hang out. We can watch him for hours and never tire of his trotting. It is not easy getting pictures so we whistle out the window. This stops him long enough for us to snap a few shots. Isn’t he gorgeous with his black socks and long tail.
On this day though he was back just behind the fence in our neighbors far back yard. We could just see him beyond our trees sniffing, listening and waiting. As he pounced and came up with the rodent meal, we noticed another surprise. Can you see it by the blue tarp. There was another fox peeking out. We figured this was a female as she was smaller and it is close to mating season. This is the first time we have seen him with a possible mate since spotting the male 4 years ago when he was a bit smaller.
We think they have a den somewhere close by perhaps even in the wild area behind us. Dens are usually found on slopes or banks especially near tree roots. We don’t think we have ever heard them calling, but if you listen to their vocalizations, they can sometimes sound like owls and other birds with similar screams.
Of course the other red fox could have been a subordinate fox as the families will stay together where young will live with their parents even when grown. We were delighted to see our young fox 4 years ago as we surmised he was seeking out his own territory.
Soon after finding food, the pair left the area. The rain was stopping and this fox is wary of humans and neighborhood dogs as he has learned the habits of his human neighbors. With the weather letting up, humans and pets were likely to come out. And luckily for the fox we rarely see coyotes in our immediate area as they are one of the predators of fox. Red fox are not endangered even though they were heavily hunted for their fur. I always found it disgusting to see a woman wearing a fox fur, head and all.
We are hopeful to see babies or kits one of these years. Kits are born blind, deaf and toothless. Parents are doting and both parents protect their babes. Fathers will feed the mothers or vixens as they stay with their young, and if the mother is killed the father will care for the kits. Fox are said to live on average 5 years in the wild.
Fox are well known in the folklore of many cultures around the world:
- In China and Japan, it is believed that fox spirits share the world with humans and were thought to be shape shifters. They even thought pleasing the fox spirit would reward you richly.
- To appease the fox, the Japanese make sacrifices at special shrines.
- The fox has appeared in fables and tales throughout history like Aesop’s the fox and the grapes.
- Native Americans have many stories and meanings for the fox: sometimes thought of as a trickster, they are considered persistent, gentle, less aggressive than the wolf and great at camouflage.
- If you dream about fox you are said to get some of the swiftness, cleverness and gentleness of the fox.
- The fox was thought to have great knowledge of the hidden things underground.
I hope you enjoyed our latest sighting of our red fox. Do you see fox in your area? Do you have a favorite critter that visits?
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