Thursday, May 26, 2016

Baby Foxes - Finally!

Not all nature is cute and fluffy, but these fox kits are!

Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) have some of the most well-loved babies here in Northern Virginia.  Their playfulness captures the hearts of all of us, their big eyes are adored, and watching them becomes an activity, as well as an opportunity for a lot of families in the suburbs.

I had the opportunity to enjoy watching some of these baby foxes with Derek and Liz Smeds this year. They watched them from their house and I watched them from my computer screen, as I placed a trail camera right at the den entrance after they had notified me about the location of the den.

Derek had shared some photos of fox kits playing in the neighbor's yard a week or so before I had a chance to get out to them.  I was hooked immediately when I realized that the foxes were playing there very often and were occupying an old groundhog den.

It was exactly what I was looking for.

I met up with Liz at their house and quickly got in contact with the landowner a few doors down, where the den was.  Permission was granted for us to start a small camera trap survey of the animals. Everyone's excitement showed tremendously.

A camera was set up and we waited patiently for the first photos. In the mean time, Liz and Derek messaged me often about any behavior they were seeing.  They texted me every few days when they'd see them, sometimes explaining how close the foxes were. Liz says "We have always had wildlife in this neighborhood and enjoy seeing it."  I could tell.  The Smeds family was as enthusiastic about this as I was.

To everyone's amazement, the first time the camera was checked was a very successful one.  A lot of footage of the foxes appeared. Again and again, the camera provided phenomenal photos of the local foxes, each time providing better results than the last.

It was awesome!

Like human children, the fox kits played, fought, ate, and pooped a lot. These behaviors are typical of fox babies, and will continue until they turn into adults when a lot of their life is hunting and taking care of their own young.

The images were from only a few weeks ago, and since then, the camera has been removed to start a new project in the area with local beavers.

The foxes will grow up and move on too, patrolling our woods and eating undesired rodents.

I would like to personally thank Derek and Liz Smeds, their neighbors, and the community of Countryside, VA for allowing me to work on this little project.  It is much appreciated!