Happy Healthy Fox Stories

Article, photos and video by Annette Bays

Approximate Read Time: 3 minutes

As a rule, Procyon Wildlife, and therefore this newsletter, deals with sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. It is our mandate after all. And particularly in the case of foxes, over the last few years there has been a lot of bad news – most of this in the form of mange. So, I thought I would change things up a little, and talk about happy healthy foxes! The ones I see on my property in particular.

At least I believe the foxes around my property are generally happy and healthy. They certainly seem relaxed and playful, as you can see in the pictures below. Mind you,  knowing foxes are solitary for the most part, and that it is currently the middle of mating season, could also explain this behaviour.

These next pictures were taken very close to where the foxes have had a den in previous years. One of the foxes wrapped its bushy tail around itself to keep warm, and had a long nap, not at all bothered by the snow coming down. Aside from keeping them warm, foxes also use their tails for balance, and to communicate with other foxes. The way they sleep has always reminded me of my cats, and it turns out that isn’t the only similarity.

The fox is a member of the Canidae family – making it a relative of the dog, but foxes actually have a lot more in common with cats. To begin with they climb trees, they hunt and use their whiskers similarly to cats and they are nocturnal. Their eyes have vertical slit pupils and shine in the dark. They are also not much bigger than a cat. Some fox species (not Red) actually even have retractable claws. And they all walk on the pads of their feet (like walking on their toes) so they stride quietly and elegantly like a cat. As you can see from this video I took the other day, foxes walk, and run elegantly, even on ice.

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Although foxes have an excellent sense of smell, in winter they almost exclusively use their amazing hearing for hunting. They can hear their prey under feet of snow or debris. But the most interesting fact researchers have found is that no matter the time of year, foxes almost always jump at their prey in a northeasterly direction. They put this down to foxes somehow using the earth’s magnetic field to triangulate the location of their prey. Although other animals also have this magnetic sense, only foxes are known to use it for hunting.

There are so many other fascinating things I could say about foxes (and in the spring I will definitely be sharing some information and images of my experiences with kits coming out of the den), but for now I’d like to finish by repeating what has been mentioned by Procyon volunteers many times, and that is to remember that foxes non-confrontational. They will avoid conflict with you and your pets if they can. They are just very curious by nature, and they find us as interesting to watch, as we do them.

Happy Healthy Fox Stories
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