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fox hole2

Tracks nearby reveal that this fox hole is in use again this year.  I’ve seen fox pups playing in this area in seasons past, but not on this visit.  There weren’t any seagull or hare carcasses outside the hole this time either, only a couple of seagull feathers. 

fox hole1

Although skunks may sometimes inhabit abandoned fox holes, these are likely still in use by foxes.  I don’t know if there were any foxes in this den when I photographed them last week.  (I’m not sure if there were any atheists either, but apparently it’s quite unlikely).   Fox dens are very deep with long tunnels and several entrances.  Here’s another…

fox hole

Foxes are nocturnal hunters that leave their neighborhoods to hunt.  Their pupils are in the shape of ellipses which give them excellent night vision.  This pupil narrows to a thin slit in the sunshine. 

Last year I saw a fox in my backyard right next to my deck.  It glanced up at me as I happened to look out the window at 5am.  Soaked from the wet grass, it was probably heading home after a night hunting in my neighborhood.  The numerous hares and ground birds that make nests in the vicinity would be very attractive to a hungry fox with a big family to feed.   However, foxes are omnivorous and eat a wide range of foods:  berries, apples, acorns, grasses, insects, birds and small  mammals.  Half their diet consists of mice.

foxRed Foxes are both beautiful and elusive, difficult to spot due to their careful manner.  I’ve seen them the odd time while walking or driving in the local area in the evenings, as they wander through yards and across roads.  They’re easily identified by their bright red fur, pointed snouts and sweeping tails. 

These cautious creatures will relocate if their dens are disturbed.  Last week, a fox den inhabited by six baby foxes was suddenly destroyed during the demolition of old school buildings in Cow Bay.  Many of us were pleased to hear that the parents had managed to find a new home for their family in the surrounding area.  This type of ready and quick adaptation is a sign that foxes will hopefully remain in our semi-rural neighborhoods for some time to come.

The image of a fox hole at top appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of NEBRASKAland Magazine’s Trail Tales.

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