Monday 17 September 2007

Sauce for the Goose

The fox is one of the most adaptable animals. You can find the Arctic fox in the far North and the Fennec fox in the hot desert. They're found all over Europe and the Americas. A species couldn't be as successful as this unless it was very adaptable.
Foxes are opportunistic feeders and can live on almost anything. The conventional childish picture book always shows Mr. Fox (or Brer Fox) pouncing on a rabbit or stalking the farmer's fowls. And there is no doubt that these are very good eating for a wandering red dog; meaty, tasty and just the right size for catching. However, that's in the countryside. Nowadays, you are more likely to see a fox in a Dublin suburb than in a rural area. So what are town foxes living on?
Here follows a list, in no particular order, of what our foxes eat.
1. Insects. Over the years, I've noticed that cubs in particular seem to eat a lot of insects. Maybe they are less skilled at hunting for themselves, or sometimes they are left unsupervised just mooching around the garden, waiting for Mam or Dad or Auntie to bring home some real bacon.
In any event, a fox looking for insects looks remarkably like a sheep grazing: head down, turn over tuft of grass at edge of path, nibble, move on a little...they get more experienced as the summer passes: they know to turn over flowerpots and stones for woodlice underneath. And they don't have to be cubs to do this: any of our adult foxes, sunbathing in a warm spot, will snatch and catch and swallow a passing moth. For them, though, I guess it's a snack; for cubs, more of a hungry stopgap or emergency rations.
Next, birds: see the next blog entry.

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