Sunday 24 May 2009


We have been seeing a half-grown cub in our garden and next door. He, or, of course, she, was first seen very shortly after the sad demise of Stringfellow. He is a good size and sometimes seen with an adult. If he was born, as most cubs are, around St Patrick's Day, he is better grown than some would be at this stage.
It is unusual that we have seen no others: a single-cub litter seems rare to us who have watched fox families for years. But it is possible that there is a more unpleasant explanation...
For the first few weeks after birth, the cubs remain underground in the breeding earth, with their mother. The dog fox brings food for her which he lays outside. Gradually the little foxes' blue eyes open and their chocolate brown fur becomes paler. After a while the vixen begins to leave them for short periods and the children, left alone, fight among themselves. This may account for the tumult of yelping, shrieking and growling that we have sometimes heard at dead of night very early in the year: I read somewhere that the cubs fight for dominance at this time and it may happen that the strongest one kills all the others.
Or possibly, Stringfellow and his missus just had a small family!
Whatever the reason, Sandy is so called because he is sandy in colour, quite pale for a fox cub, and full of mischief! He has been skittering around Martin's, exploring the lawn, sunbathing, and jumping around the adult that we presume is his mother, the quondam Mrs Stringfellow.
Fox cubs are as charming as puppies and kittens and just as lively: a delight to watch! Poor Mary Martin now has a garden full of ripped plastic bags, chewed shoes and food wrappers...ah well, kids grow up fast!

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