THE CUTE LITTLE RED FOX ON PRESQUE ISLE

March 22, 2017 8:13 am Published by Leave your thoughts

 

This cute little mammal that has been a resident of Presque Isle as long as I can remember. They were on the park back when I was just a child. So, long ago, I fell in love with these little guys.  At first it was their incredible good looks that caught my attention.  After all, it is hard to see a fox in the wild and not realize it is stunningly beautiful.  But over time, I have found that I really appreciate their cunning and behavioral charisma over their beauty.  Once I began to learn about foxes and how they adapted to living on Presque Isle and in our urban areas, I realized exactly what a wonderful creature they are.

photo by Brian Berchtold

Sometimes there are quite a few foxes on the park, and at other times do to various reasons their population becomes very low.  The traffic on the park takes a large toll on their numbers.  After all, they are rather small and dash out quickly across the roads.  Their bodies just 2 ½ to 3 feet and their bushy red tail 2 feet.  They are usually less than a foot in height.   The Coyote is also not a friend of the fox.  But the fox is much faster and usually smarter than the coyote.  At one point, a large number of foxes died due to Sarcoptic Mange that spread among the fox population in this general area.

Photo by Brian Bertold

I believe one of my undeniable reason to love the Red Fox they have always is, at least to me, that they symbolically offer a lot to my imagination.   As extraordinary as it seems, the fox can live in the boundaries between cat and dog, wild and cultivated, and trickster and helper.  They are smart in many ways.   For example, I saw a video where a fox played dead and drew a crow close enough to garner a quick and easy meal.

Another example of how smart they are is that they use their long bushy tail to help themselves in many ways.  For example, in the winter they have been known to use it to brush away their footprints in the snow, In the winter, fox also uses this bushy long tail for warmth and wraps it around its head and face.

The Red Fox is customarily nocturnal, although they will sometimes and places venture out in the daytime. This seems to be particularly true on Presque Isle.  Although usually mainly in the early morning or at dusk. it is commonly seen in sheltered areas where ponds and water are easily available.  The Red fox, unlike most mammals, hears low-frequency sounds very well.  It can hear small digging underground and will frequently dig in the dirt or snow to catch a prey. The fox stalks its prey much like a cat. It slowly gets close and then pounces and caches its prey.

The fox is an omnivore and its diet in wide and varied.   Of course, we know it eats birds, small mammals like squirrels, rabbits, moles and mice, but it also dines on fruits, berries and even some grasses.  What I just found out is that it also includes numerous invertebrates like crickets, caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers and crawfish.  Last summer, I even saw a fox catch a fish on the edge of Waterworks Pond West by Cabin #3. On Horseshoe Pond a fisherman told me saw a fox catching frogs in the shallow shoreline waters of the pond.  This is when I found that foxes are excellent swimmers, although you can tell that they do not seem fond of it. Another fact I did not know until last year is that they hunt even when they are full.  They store extra food underground, in thick leaves or in the winter in the snow.

On Presque Isle, the foxes seem to just appear.  They also seem to appear in areas of what might be called where wild and cultivated transition into each other.  They are magicians of sort.  Somehow, they find secret pathways that allow them to slip though apparently impenetrable tangles of brush like no other animal I can remember.  Suddenly they just appear, and if you turn to look they can simply disappear.

Foxes are often called catlike.  This is somewhat true however foxes with their catlike eyes which have vertical pupils that allow them to see better in low light.   Most foxes also have long sensitive whiskers much like a cat.   And, they hunt they hunt alone.  Watching them hunt you would believe they are a cat.  But those are the only characteristic of the feline that the fox has.  Foxes are a true canid  (animals of the dog family) in that they are omnivore’s who live in small social groups and have definite hierarches.  In fact, they are the most widespread wild canid in the world.

The Red Fox mates from January through March.  The female will make or steal one or more dens right after mating.  The extra dens can be used if the first den is disturbed.  The female steals dens like rabbits, or other ground dwelling mammals because she does not like the work involved in making a den herself. In about two months after mating, the female will birth a litter of between two and ten kits.  The male brings food for the kits she is caring for and for her.  The kits start playing outside the den when they are about six weeks old.  The mother begins feeding the kits regurgitated food, but eventually she will bring them live prey to play with and eat.  This playing with live prey helps the young kits develop the skills needed for hunting. At about seven or eight months the kits begin to leave their mother.

Right now, there are just a few foxes on the park, However, with the light winter the fox population on Presque Isle should increase.  So, when you are an early morning or dusk sunrise or sunset visitor on the park, please drive carefully and watch for our Red Fox.  Humans and cars combine to kill more foxes than any other animal on the park.

 

See you on the park!!

 


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