Red foxes are not indigenous to the US. They were imported here by
English Colonials. You see, the native gray foxes are tree climbers, and the fox hunters were unable to catch them. I’ve personally never seen one of these elusive gray foxes in our area, but I’ve been assured by the local nature center that they do exist in northern Virginia.
Red foxes though, they seem to be everywhere. We weren’t sure if the mated couple were going to bed down again on our property, and it wasn’t until there was a light snowfall in February that I saw the tracks leading to the den. Red foxes mate sometime in December-January and, after 48 or so days, give birth to a litter of 4-5 kits. In 2016, they were the proud parents of five.
After 2-3 weeks in the den—the male fox drops off food for the vixen—the kits emerge. This happened about 2 weeks ago. And again, 5 kits. Or so we thought. A couple of nights ago, they were very active, and we were able to count 7! I posted videos of them on my Facebook page.
The kits are hilarious, especially the one with a white back paw. He delights in pouncing on his siblings and dragging them around by their tails. I watched today as he took a flying leap off the garden wall, unaware that one of his brothers or sisters—I can’t really tell—had his tail in its mouth. His flight was short-lived, and he went sprawling face first into the grass. Did it stop him from chasing his siblings around the cherry tree? Absolutely not.
We’re on a countdown now. Red foxes have 3 or 4 dens in their territory. When one den
gets too pungent, they move on. With seven kits and their mom, not to mention the animal bones from their meals—we found white chicken feathers in the dirt one day—and I’m assuming their accumulated waste, it won’t be very long before they move on. In fact, the vixen has been leading them on excursions across the yard, then the street, and into the woods behind the house for the last few days. Each time, they go a little farther afield.
In the meantime, as long as they are here, I’ve been trying to capture as many fox videos and pictures as possible. Some of the videos and pictures are on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve also created a picture gallery on my website: https://nekelleher.com/photos-2/
The question my husband and I have yet to decide is whether or not we should we permanently close up the access point to their den. I’m for letting this little bit of nature return again next year.