The fox babies are growing up. They seem (some of them, anyway) to still come back to the den to sleep. Fox research says that kits will begin to hunt in groups, or perhaps accompany an adult on hunts at about 3.5 months of age. This group of kits is at that point in their growth. I had noticed, even before play sessions, that one or two of the kits would “come from elsewhere” (who knows where) to join in. I’ve not seen a play session since the weekend. On Monday night, though, a fox was hit by a car on the road below me. That night I actually heard fox “scream” calls at about 11 p.m. I have no way of knowing if that had anything to do with the road kill. My adults are all intact (a neighbor thought it might have been one of this fox family). The neighbor boy who found it and buried it told me it was an adult fox…but he may have been mistaken, since the kits are getting so big now. It may have been a fox from another territory. All I know is the order of things has suddenly changed. I’d not seen “Bashful” until Thursday morning, and at first wondered if she may have been hit. At that point I’d seen maybe one kit out of the den, but no mor group play sessions. That night seemed to create a difference in the order of fox behavior. Since that time I’ve seen all four adults from my fox family curled up under my bird feeders in the morning (they had done that when the kits were under the deck). I’ve not seen any kits, however. It is very possible the fox killed was one of the kits on a night hunting trip. Kits are so vulnerable at this stage in their lives. Of course, animals have litters for just that reason: to ensure that SOME genes are successful for future generations. Considering the risks, only one pup from a litter making it to maturity is a reasonable reality. That all three from the litter last year made it (the boy at least made it until he was forced from the territory by “Papa” fox), is rather unusual and amazing. I had worried about what might happen when these current kits were going out into the world, however. The home territory is obviously rather full, with four adult foxes living on it. Would one of the adult females search out another territory? Would they drive the female kits away? That all remains to be seen, and I may never know. Still, foxes are extremely intelligent, and they learn quickly. An example is my birdbath sitting in a scraggly raspberry patch. “Bashful” and “Sweetie” would drink from it by jumping right up onto the structure. The kits were fascinated, but couldn’t reach. “Big Red,” however, the biggest of the litter, made it eventually, and on his first attempt session! (See photos below). As with all three litters in three consecutive seasons of denning under my deck, I have increased my knowledge of fox behavior, and I’ve been blessed with some interesting photography as well.
My life involves the outdoors and photography. I am a wildlife-watcher and documenting what I see is the way I relive the interesting, life-changing, ah-ha moments I record in word and image. My dogs, my teaching, my photo equipment, my new horizons as a mid-life Suddenly Single Woman trying to navigate the world is what this blog is all about.
My book: Foxes at My Window is available!
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