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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Welcoming Wildlife: Red Fox

Posted by | November 13, 2023 | Filed under: Observations

Red foxes probably visit the Wells Reserve often, but we don’t notice or they are discrete. For a few days in October, some people saw a fox roving around the Laudholm campus and became concerned about its health and their safety.

I watched this fox as it was hunting late one morning in the field by the water tower, then ambling to the parking lot berm where it curled up and took a nap near the base of a light post. The fox had a beautiful lush coat and black stockings, mottled face, and the tell-tale white tip on its tail. (Gray foxes are smaller, with a smaller face, and have a black tip on their tail.)

A red fox rests near a car in the reserve's parking lot. Photo: Scott Richardson

This fine specimen was out hunting and resting in the middle of the day. Though a few observers thought this was suspicious, it was not unusual behavior for a fox, especially on a cloudy day. Even though they are considered crepuscular, meaning most active at dawn and dusk, foxes regularly hunt at other times of day—whenever they are hungry.

Foxes are essential to a healthy landscape. Though our wild canine friends typically hunt rodents, they have a varied diet that also includes vegetation, fruits, eggs, birds, and small mammals. Through their diet and behavior foxes help to disperse seeds, enrich the soil, and keep rodent populations in check.

When welcoming foxes, remember they are wildlife. We need to respect them and keep our distance. They usually keep their distance too, but isn’t it a treat to encounter them as they hunt and nap? It is important to be grateful for wildlife but let the wild be wild.

Foxes rarely carry rabies, but the red fox that was on campus last month appeared healthy and was exhibiting normal fox behavior.

I invite you to observe your wild neighbors, welcome them, and send positive energy as they help us and inspire us. And learn about them, so you can teach others to respect and support them.

Red fox in field northwest of the Laudholm farmhouse. Photo: Linda Littlefield Grenfell.

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