Cunning fox adapts to surroundings

Red foxes are common in our district, but are rarely seen, as they are shy, nervous and generally nocturnal. Recognized as being a cunning mammal, they can survive in any type of habitat.

They eat whatever is available, feeding on vegetation, such as berries, grasses and corn, as well as insects, like grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars. Included also are mice, hares and woodchucks.

Their sense of hearing is outstanding, as they can hear a mouse or other small animals chewing under the soil, or in winter, under the snow. They know exactly where the prey is and dig into the soil until they find it. In winter, one may sit on a mound of snow or a stump and leap into the air, landing on the prey under the snow.

The fox in the photo acted a little differently. I first saw it and two others while I was walking around a field in Crozier. I had been chopping wood, and needed a break. As I strolled along the trail, I saw three small heads peeking at me from the grass, and an adult fox watching from the bush. I estimated that these ones were about 1.5 months old, since kits are usually born in April or May.

Foxes are shy and nocturnal, so rarely spotted. But they are highly adaptable, eating a wide variety of foods, and able to live in many environments. – Henry Miller photo

For a while, there was no sign of the fox family. Then, later that summer, a half grown fox showed up by the bird feeder. It was eating sunflower seeds I had spread on the ground!

From then on, this male fox became bolder. In fact, he came to meet me when I drove into the field. When I chopped wood, he watched me work. When I picked up the chainsaw, he ran to the other side of the field. Whenever I went for a walk, he followed me like a dog.

One day in late September, I noticed he was not eating seeds, but was sitting upright in an early snow with ears pointed forward, staring intently into the bush on the south side of the field. Suddenly, he leaped into the air, and bolted into the bush to the west.

Wondering what had frightened him, I investigated. I found tracks where two wolves had gone through.

I never saw that fox again. I suppose he had to find a new territory. Fox families usually disperse much earlier in the year, so it was natural that he should go to find a mate and a new territory to raise a family.