Friday, March 28, 2008

The Generalists

Our next urban dweller and generalist is the Fox. Although England has a higher population of urban foxes than we do in the States, it is probably because England has no raccoons for the fox to compete with. That doesn't mean the foxes aren't out there, prowling our cities and backyards. You could easily be blaming other animals—raccoons, coyotes, cats—for the mischief or mayhem that is actually being caused by the fox.

Foxes are as opportunistic as raccoons, helping themselves to shelter in our sheds and abandoned barns or grabbing a quick snack from our garbage cans and compost heaps. They just tend to be more secretive about it. Foxes canvas a wide territory, or range, and move their dens frequently. They tend to be more strictly nocturnal, although finding a fox basking on your trampoline in the afternoon sunshine is not cause for alarm. Foxes are unconcerned with the presence of your dog or cat (unless a large dog) and will tend to ignore them, or even play with them for a bit, before securing their snack and moving on. Foxes are not strictly carnivorous and include insects, vegetables and fruit in their diet. Unlike raccoons, foxes will not stay on your back porch to consume their meal, but instead cache it. This means a fox retreats with its food and finds a "safe" place to bury it. The food will be retrieved and eaten later, even much later. Foxes have an amazing sense of smell and have no problem finding their buried meals. So, the next time you blame your dog for digging up the kids pet rabbit, you might want to look for the sharp face and bushy tail of a fox.

This Youtube video is a little long (2 minutes), but the fox is having such fun, I couldn't resist.

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