Monday, June 29, 2009

Red Foxes in the Garden

Last week I caught my first glimpse of something I have never seen before, a fox in my backyard.  There was a little doubt in my mind when I saw it.  Was it some sort of dog that resembled a fox or did I really seen one?  I've never been fortunate enough to see one in the wild just in zoo enclosures but I today I can definitely confirm what I thought I saw last week. We have two red foxes living in our yard.


Last year we had a little mascot named Murry. I never really spoke about him at all but he was here munching on rotten tomatoes that weren't good enough for us to eat. I would toss them out into the yard from the garden and when I wasn't around Murry the groundhog would saunter over and eat some garden tomatoes.  He lived in a little hole on the slope alongside our house.  You might ask why if I have foxes am I talking about groundhogs? Foxes like to make their homes in abandoned groundhog holes, hollow logs, and other similar spots. We haven't seen Murry in a long time, since last fall before his hibernation. Whether he moved on or passed away, I can't say, but in the current Spring Hill, TN housing market there are always homes looking for new residents!

This explains some other things too.  Over the winter months (Jan.-Feb. mostly) I remember hearing odd sounds outside at night. I had assumed it was coyotes off in the distance but now I realize that maybe it was the mating calls of the foxes.  They mate during that time of year and new kits are born in the spring. When the kits are about 3 months old the begin to learn how to hunt. I wonder if we'll be fortunate enough to see some young foxes scampering through the yard? Here's a quick slideshow with some pictures I took this morning:



Here's one of the cropped pictures of the foxes from the slide show above. The tall ears, fuzzy tail, and black fur on the legs are a dead giveaway.

  

The two foxes did a whole lap around our yard. They must have been having fun. The shot below was from inside our kitchen looking out at the backyard. Unfortunately all these pictures were taken through a pain of glass otherwise they might have been more clear.


The foxes ran right through our yard and into a neighbor's but I could still see them through the trees. From the information I have read about red foxes they generally don't bother cats and almost never tangle with dogs. As long as they aren't destructive or threatening I'm content to let them live where they choose.  They are definitely more unique than the animals we usually see around here! 
As the telling of every tale/tail must do this one has now arrived at ...
 
...the end!

For a little more on Red Foxes visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

15 comments :

  1. Dear Dave .. It is amazing to see them like that .. almost in your own back yard : )
    I have heard that odd call of the fox .. it is one strange sound I will not forget !

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  2. I enjoyed your fox story. Isn't it amazing what we receive when we get back to nature in even the smallest way? Hope they don't have fox hunts where you are or this fall you'll be seeing a lot of horses too? lol

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  3. Dave,

    We have a real problem here with foxes carrying rabies. Just last week, a rabid fox JUMPED A FENCE at a daycare and bit a little girl. This happens many times during the summer. They get very aggressive and will chase down dogs, cats and people in the daylight. So, I'd be vary concerned about seeing them during the day.

    Cute, but be careful.

    Cameron

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  4. We have had foxes living in our backwoods for several years now. Be careful with your little ones. We have restrictions against feeding them as they have been known to attack humans.

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  5. I have never seen any foxes in our yard but with the woods behind us I bet they are out there. That is so cool. I live in Dickson, not too far away.

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  6. We've had a fox in our neighborhood for years (of course it might not be the same fox). Although we live in town, there is a wooded area in the center of the neighborhood. They are so beautiful. Do you know if they attack cats?

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  7. That's so awesome, Dave! Foxes typically eat field mice and other rodents, though of course they're opportunistic like all predators. I've seen them in the field behind us but they're never made the move to our yard---more rodents in the field! As long as your are bounding around looking happy and healthy I wouldn't be too concerned about rabies, but of course you should be cautious and get the heck out of the yard if they show up while any of you are actually working or playing out there. And I think your photos are great!

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  8. I was going to say....aren't you afraid for your cat? You beat me to it. Their play is really cute! And they are a pretty red color.

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  9. Pretty cool, you must be quick with the camera.

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  10. I've only seen a fox twice in my life. It was memorable because they were so bright and beautiful.. I felt privileged.

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  11. That's so exciting Dave. Do the girls love seeing them? gail

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  12. That is too much wildlife in the garden for me Dave. After reading some of the other comments I would be careful. Keep the girls closeby.

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  13. Joy,

    They are in the backyard! Of course they are staying generally toward the more wild areas. They may like my hillside paths that lead me to blackberries!

    Cherie,

    No fox hunts that I know of! I draw the line at horse in the garden. I'll take the byproduct though. One of the reasons I like to garden is to bring wildlife closer. I guess something is working!

    Cameron,

    We'll definitely keep an eye out. All the material I've read says that unless they are rabid they pretty much keep to themselves. Skunks are the big rabies threat here in TN.

    Darla,

    I have no plans to begin feeding them. After all if I fed them then who would eat the rabbits?

    Phillip,

    I've read that they may attack cats but usually only smaller kittens a little cats if at all. Usually cats are about the same size as the fox and they would rather pick on someone smaller.

    Dawn,

    Unfortunately Amber passed away in December but she was always an indoor cat and wouldn't have been anywhere near the foxes.

    David,

    I keep it handy. I ran outside early in the morning to take a shot and realize that the card was in the computer! Fortunately I had it loaded when they came back later in the morning.

    Shirley,

    They are beautiful. They have a kind of mischievous grace around them!

    Gail,

    Grace does but I don't think Olivia has seen them yet!

    Racquel,

    No worries there. They stay where eyes can see them, mostly!

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  14. It's nice to have nature close by. I've seen fox in person & they are pretty. But with all wild life one must be careful.

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  15. I saw a fox jaunting across the pasture a few weeks ago, it was a cloudy morning. Foxes are crepuscular, twilight animals, so I assume that's why he was out there at 10 am. A few days later I found an empty goose egg stolen from the resident Canadian goose nest. I'm glad our 20lb dog wasn't outside when it went by.

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