4. Jan, 2015

Down the fox hole

It’s foxing hour, the time of day when foxes go about their business. And although they are not my favourite of animals, I have great respect for them. However, my kind and unassuming husband would beg to differ!

     Walking along the cliff paths or on the moors, near our home for waifs and strays, I often come across foxholes and shiver. Not the foxholes that were dug by soldiers during wartime, but the four legged kind that worry me where our hens are concerned. And when, in the dark of night, I hear their shrill call, I always pray it is the barn owl and not the dreaded fox. You see, when one is half asleep, the sounds seem quite similar. Remember, it is the tawny owl that hoots.

     So they dig their holes to raise their young and as a part of their behaviour. Quite often they dig for about a metre and leave it! I guess it is a good form of exercise, thinking about it!

     When the fluffy grey-brown cubs are born, they are fed by their mums for about four weeks. By then, their fur begins to turn red. About this time, aunts and uncle foxes will bring solid food to the den plus a variety of old toys, shoes and gloves. Evidence of these have been found when the dens are abandoned.

     After about seven weeks the family will most likely change homes. This is probably due to it being too small, filthy, or perhaps someone or something has frightened them off.  But around three or four months, when autumn is upon them, some of the young will start to look for a home of their own. It is also the time when I hear their cries the most!  However, what is quite interesting is that the vixens (females) will often stay with their mother to help raise the next litter. Quite a loyalty, I would say!