All about foxes

The wintery weather has stayed with us and we’ve had a very cold wind from the east down here in North Devon. I took a trip to the top of Exmoor to see a friend of mind the other day but got stuck in the snow for about an hour.  The lane was full up with snow to about four foot deep out near a place called Sandy Way so I never made it to see my friend. We only had about three inches at home.

I think it’s about time I talked about foxes again as some of you lovely people might not know what the old fox gets up to. At this time of year they are mating and some nights you can hear them barking like a dog.

A lot of farmers don’t like the fox because it takes their lambs and also their chickens. It’s pretty keen on pheasant chicks as well. The real problem is that the fox seems to kill just for fun. If it killed one animal and took it away to eat then I think people wouldn’t mind so much. We all understand that every animal needs food and that the fox has to kill to get his. The trouble is, a fox will kill all the chickens in the coop but only take one away to eat. That’s hard to understand and accept.

But when those little cubs come out of the den in the Spring, they are the cutest things to see and, just like the badger cubs, so lovely to watch as they play together. The biggest litter I’ve ever seen is seven cubs but altogether I’ve have seen twelve cubs at one den, from different litters though. If you go too near the den the fox will move her cubs. I once knew a fox who moved her cubs four times because her den area was disturbed and she felt the cubs were in danger. Foxes have a great sense of smell and can pick up your scent a quarter of a mile away.

We are lucky enough to have foxes on our land and I love to watch them and film them when I can. I will never forget the day last year when I was down there waiting for the vixen to come back with food to feed her cubs and when she did arrive she had a hare in her mouth, one of the ones we let go on the land ourselves I’m pretty sure. I was so upset she’d caught one of these beautiful animals you don’t see so much these days. But that’s the way it goes. The hare was outsmarted and ended up as the cubs’ dinner.

So this is how I know what the foxes are killing, by watching them and also looking to see what remains are left outside the den. So, if you know of a foxes den near you, go up there in Spring and see if you can spot any cubs. Be sure to keep a good distance mind but if you think the vixen might have moved her cubs on then have a closer look around the hole to see if you can work out what she’s been feeding them from any remains lying about. Maybe then you’ll say to yourself, yes, Johnny’s right about that.