NATURE NOTES - Fantastic Mr Fox

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GRIEF but it’s been cold this weekend!

It fell to minus four last night and then we have the threat of snow soon too! The hard frosts have which just about done it for our flowers that got lulled into thinking that spring was about to sprung.

The frost did show that our resident fox had been busy as his tracks were still very visible. He had had a good wander around the cottage looking for something to eat – hehehehe our wheelie bins are just too big for him to knock over now but not one for giving in easily he had been on top of them looking for a way in – I think it may only be a matter of time before he finds he can lift the lids with little effort.

When we had the small bins it was a regular thing to wake up to an overturned bin with its choice contents strewn all over the garden.

Wonder what sort of impact has wheelie bins had on urban fox populations and have any found a way of opening them?

Foxes are now a common sight in all our cities and towns, only a couple of weeks ago I had a call from a lady living near enough in the town centre who had a fox that came into her yard most nights.

The life of a red fox begins with the courtship of its parents, in December of the year before its birth.

At this time, most foxes will travel in pairs or threes. Mating takes place most commonly between mid-December and mid-February, although it can be as late as March or even early April.

About two thirds of matings take place in January, though that figure can be different in different areas.

The cubs are born 52-53 days after mating, so the majority of foxes bear their cubs in March.

When the cubs are round about five weeks old, they begin to discover the world outside the earth.

Weaning takes place at this time, so the parents bring back prey for the cubs to eat.

Later in the summer the cubs learn to hunt for themselves, and their parents will provide less food and spend less time at the earth.

The cubs range farther from the earth as they grow older, hunting for themselves but remaining in the territory of their parents.

Of the five to six cubs born to an average fox litter, usually two or three survive.

This juvenile mortality is higher in areas where foxes are controlled; this results in a population made up from younger foxes.

Interestingly, this is the only noticeable effect that fox control has on a fox population; it has been shown that the level of control does not affect numbers of foxes.