A foxy Caturday

By Phil Plait | June 12, 2010 7:01 am

It’s Caturday! Which, regular readers know, I have expanded here at the BABlog to include all creatures great and small. So check out this cutie pie:

This is a young fox that lives across the street from my in-laws’ house. We were over there the other day, and I had to leave early (to come home to write, somewhat ironically). But my wife and daughter saw a fox running around the neighborhood, and saw it go into a neighbor’s yard. There were people standing around looking, so they joined them… and what they found were a pair of young kits poking around. They obviously had a lair there.

My brother-in-law took this picture, and several others. The foxes are apparently pretty tame, but I hope people still keep their distance. Also, my B-i-L has had to deal with finding mostly-eaten corpses of various prey in his yard, too. Nice. We’re starting to get pretty good at identifying bones…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Caturday, Fox

Comments (26)

  1. Wendy

    Your BIL is a pretty talented photographer over all! I love all the butterfly images.

  2. Your Brother in law has a wonderful talent with pictures. The moon and Venus Shot was great.
    The foxes are wonderful. I understand that foxes are becoming almost as well adapted to suburban life as the coyotes. It can be problematic, but I applaud any animal that can adapt and thrive when humans change their natural environments.

  3. Sir Craig

    The locals might wish to call animal control – from the looks of that joint on its right forelimb, it might be suffering from some kind of infestation.

    Just make sure it’s a no-kill organization, please…


    Cutie pie?! This is the ‘cutie pie’ sound that foxes make:

    Like this guy:

    Bodysnatcher scene

  5. bystander

    Foxes are canines, not felines, but nice shots none-the-less.

  6. Ommapaul

    Don’t keep your doors open while foxes are around – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/10251349.stm

  7. Gorgeous eyes! They’re cute animal but here in Oz they’re vermin. I haven’t seen a live one in a while. Currently I’m touring around the North East of Victoria and I’ve seen maybe half a dozen road kill foxes which is kind of sad. More than roos which is interesting.
    Actually I do see recall seeing a live fox this year… Hokkaido Japan. We were photographing Japanese cranes and whooper swans and we had delightful afternoon watching a fox attempting to stalk these rather large birds across the snow. Of course the birds could see the cute red fox coming across the snow and let their displeasure be known. The poor thing went hungry.

  8. We have a mated pair of grey foxes that come to our house every night and clean out the bird feeders. They are so darn cute, we let them. The mama is nursing, but she hasn’t brought any of the kits to the house yet.

  10. Michel

    Cats are just one step above foxes.
    Still, foxes are utter cool.

  11. Allen

    Wow, check out his eyes!

    Sir Craig @3:

    Here, here! Don’t call in PETA, or the foxes will help them get to 28,000 kills.

  12. Michel



    @Allen (#11),

    “Here, here!”? Err… click here. 😉

  14. Radwaste

    Just remember, while you’re looking at the cute picture, to keep your domestic animals under control. No, don’t let your cats and dogs roam, not while you’re going to work, not while you’re doing chores.

    They’re entertainment killers. Yes, Fluffy and Fido.

    And look up Yersenia Pestis. You could be Patient Zero, too.

  15. Even though it isn’t a cat, I think a fox is the most feline-ish of the canines.

  16. I always thought the cry of the Red Fox was “I’m a-comin’, Elizabeth! I’m havin’ the Big One!” Or, alternatively, “You big dummy.”

  17. @SirCraig:

    The locals might wish to call animal control – from the looks of that joint on its right forelimb, it might be suffering from some kind of infestation.

    Just make sure it’s a no-kill organization, please…

    [Sigh] SirCraig, it’s taking great effort for this long-time worker in the animal sheltering field not to go off on you. I would advise that, if you really don’t have experience, leave the advice to others.

    Animal control organizations rarely have much, if anything, to do with wildlife, and on receiving public complaints of problem species like foxes, the most-frequent response is trap-and-euthanize. They don’t have the resources to treat wildlife species for things like mange, ringworm, and the like.

    Some private, non-profit organizations might – provided they’re not under restrictions on handling rabies-vector species. But there’s a lot to consider, such as:

    1) Taking a juvenile away from its parents;
    2) Inducing stress from close contact with humans, for an extended period of time;
    3) Avoiding imprinting/socialization;
    4) Costs of veterinary treatments;
    5) Even finding a vet with experience in foxes;
    6) Having someone with appropriate housing and dietary facilities; and so on.

    Most of these organizations have no connection to animal shelters, animal control, and county departments. Some are lucky enough to be known and receive referrals. Some just won’t – the state wildlife agency is more likely to have the ability to contact them.

    The concept of a “No-Kill” organization is a myth. Not only are any shelters that call themselves that selective in their intake and usually overcrowded, they breed this idea in people that such things are possible, which works directly against the real source of the problems of pet overpopulation in the first place. It was my job to research this, in well-documented detail, just a few years ago. There was no county or city, within the US, that operated a No-Kill animal control. None. Those that made the claim (San Francisco, Ithaca) had selective intakes and farmed off their animals to other organizations – Ithaca transported their overflow 300 miles to a high-population shelter on Long Island! San Francisco has a second animal control shelter across the street with no such policy. And of course, there’s PETA’s own shameful and pathetic attempt – Google that one for giggles.

    And any “No-Kill” wildlife organization would scare the stuffing out of me – I really don’t want to face the idea of some emotional-yet-blind nitwit letting an animal die in suffering because they won’t end it when there’s no hope.

    Just, kindly, find out what it means before repeating the horsehockey.

    I’m not going to allow this thread to degenerate into a heated debate on the subject – if anyone wants to reply, ping me on my blog and I’ll open up a thread, happily. It just doesn’t belong here.

    As for the image, very nice! Nice undistracting background and a full-face shot! The fill-flash gave a bit of surreal quality to the eyes, I admit… 😉

    I’d be interested to know, what equipment and range? I’m going to guess at 300mm+, 15 meters…?

  18. Moose

    We had a fox turn up in the greenbelt behind my parents’ house a few summers ago. Last summer, four. (A second fox turned up and they apparently had kits.)

    Then they gradually stopped being afraid of people. A cat was seen to be taken.

    A few days later, my neighbor’s dog (on his leash) was confronted and surrounded by all four foxes. (They backed off, slightly, when my dad turned up. The neighbor brought his dog inside.

    Some woman walking her lab through the neighborhood across the street got confronted by a pair of them.

    The greenbelt was directly between the elementary school (at the bottom of the valley) and a retirement community (at the top). The foxes were seen on both grounds.

    At this point, after several complaints, Natural Resources agreed to trap and relocate the foxes.

  19. Autumn

    I remember camping many years ago, and in the middle of the night hearing something that I first took to be a female camper off in the woods really enjoying herself. After what seemed like too many minutes worth of cries (I won’t embarrass myself by putting a number on the “too many minutes for a woman to be making passionate cries, at least in my experience”), I briefly though it might be a repetitive and drawn-out murder taking place, before I finally decided that it was an animal call of some sort.
    A week later I saw a documentary about urban foxes, and a mother calling repeatedly to her kits was the exact sound I had heard.

    Also, bobcats can make sounds that can only be described as someone playing bagpipes made out of babies.

  20. Pi-needles

    @^ Autumn: What do bagpipes made out of babies sound like and are they even legal? 😉

  21. Messier Tidy Upper

    I’ve seen foxes trotting down my street quite a few times and had one standing in my garden quite unafraid & just looking right at me – and at Harry my barking dog (a Jack Russell cross fox terrier) – calmly before walking off seemingly utterly unimpressed. Given the history of my dog’s breed as fox hunters I was tempted to let him go chase but decided against it. For one thing the fox was bigger than Harry is although I don’t think he knows he’s a small dog, for another not sure what I’d do with it if he caught it! 😉

    I’ve also had Harry suddenly bark and race over to the loungeroom window to see a fox disappearing along the street and, given that we’ve been shut inside with the TV on, been amazed that he could know the fox was there at all. Wonder how he knew? The place was all shut up and the oil heater on (cold night) so hard to believe he could smell it and it is also hard to imagine he could’ve heard it with all the noise and with the fox being so quiet but he did somehow. Canine senses sure do beat human ones! 😉

    Here in Australia foxes (introduced early on in our history for “sport”) are an introduced pest and a big problem for the native wildlife along with feral cats and cane toads*. My parents have lost chickens to foxes a couple of times so I can’t say I’m overly fond of the critters. :-(


    Thanks – neat video, awful sound – *that* sure got my dogs attention too! 😉


    * Although cane toads aren’t a problem in my area or state (South Oz) and are restricted to the northern parts of Australia – for now.

  22. JB of Brisbane

    I realise this is just anecdotal evidence, but –
    One weekday morning just on 7 AM, parking my car at my local railway station (Toombul, just under 8km – five miles – by rail from the Brisbane CBD), something skulked past the little shop I parked out the front of – an honest-to-goodness fox. I looked at it and said, “Where the hell did you come from?” It just gave me a quick sideways glance and kept going down the street.

    Toombul station is within sight of Kedron Brook, which rises in the hills to the west of the city. At the time, Brisbane and its hinterland were in the grip of one of their worst droughts on record. I assume this fox came over the hills from the Brisbane or Samford Valleys looking for better food or water, found itself in the Kedron Brook catchment and just followed the brook down.

  23. Clint

    JB, quite a lot of foxes in and around Brisbane. As a night-time worker I often saw them.
    Bloody pests they are. I wouldn’t be taking photos, I’d be taking aim.
    They are introduced pests in Australia and along with cats, do a lot of damage to our local native animals.
    On the other hand, I am happy to have several brushtail possums using my garage as a bedroom, even if they do piddle on the car occasionally.
    Check out this cutie http://lovell.com.au/possum/Rufus.jpg

  24. Gary Ansorge

    My favorite wild critters are insectivorous bats. They really keep the mosquito levels in check. This year in Georgia(usa) we’re having an overflow of mosquitos. Humidity and temps are up, so they’re breeding excessively(and getting most of their food from ME, dang it).

    Having several feral cats around sure does keep the other varmints (rats and mice) under control. Ah, nature, a balance of terror.

    Gary 7

  25. Paul D.

    Red foxes have unusually light bones, and are adapted for a “pounce” style of predation. The large tail enables them to control their orientation while airborne. All this contributes to the way they almost seem to float while running.

    Coyotes go out of their way to kill foxes, btw, since they compete for rodents. In Yellowstone, the fox population went up after wolves were introduced, since the wolves in turn kill coyotes.

  26. AJ

    @ no. 6. Ommapaul: Ah, yes. I was going to link to that…

    @ Phil: Maybe urban foxes are less common in the US, but at the moment in the UK, we don’t feel particularly well-disposed to them.


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