Friday, April 3, 2009

THE LITTLE FOXES

Yesterday kenju reported a possible fox sighting at her place. This is my all time favorite animal and I used to collect fox "things" till I realized as long as I did that, I would never again receive a gift that wasn't of a foxy nature and my nicknack shelves runneth over. I no longer collect.






I do not believe in "owning" wild animals. They need to remain wild but sometimes there is a situation that calls for such ownership. My first fox came by not being careful of what I said. I was visiting some friends from India who owned a pet shop. Adarsh was so excited for he had just gotten in a shipment of Arctic Fox kits he wanted to show me. Oh my were they cute. Silver gray fuzz balls with black masks. I had been assured they were ranch foxes who had never seen the wild for multiple generations. Adarsh told me that all the foxes were spoken for.





I said, "If you get any more, let me know, I may be interested." I am pretty sure I said "MAY be interested."




When I got home that same day, there was a message on the answering machine. Adarsh said one of the customers changed their mind and he had "my" fox ready. Oh gosh, I was not ready. I called him back to say I needed time for I had no place to keep a baby fox. However, as I envisioned him in some yard in a small cage, I agreed to take him.






I had a ton of 2/4 inch welded wire and lots of 2x4s so I started building a temporary pen for the little guy who was only a few months old. I constructed a 16 foot long pen with a dog house in one end. Then I went to pick up my little fellow. Adarsh warned me that the fox would need taming about the same time the little varmint raked his teeth over my hand drawing blood. So that was why Adarsh wore such thick gloves. Really wanted to rethink taking the fox but I had promised, or at least I think I did, or did I? Too late now.





Apologize for the quality of this picture of Kit. Before digital camera days but you can see the thickness of his coat.






Kit ,as I named him, never really tamed. I moved him out of his cage as he grew up and let him run loose in my front yard which was fenced with the same 2x4 inch wire fencing. Electric fence ran along the bottom to discourage digging out or climbing the fence. He learned more rapidly than my dogs the lesson of electric fence and I had no problems with him trying to leave. He grew huge, furry and with a disdain for humans. The only time I saw him with a fox smile is when he would try to pee on your leg. Really had to watch him.


He could not be turned loose for he had no fear of humans and would run right up to anyone. In the woods, this would cause his death either because a hunter would fear rabies or would just want a really cool fur to hang on the wall. Also, he only knew how to hunt kibble





Vixen with my sister Jan




Vixen arrived in a much different manner. Part of my job at the power company was in high bill investigation. I was sent near the Indian Reservation in Brighton to an orange grove. The grove owners supplied houses for the workers and one of the workers was unhappy with the bill. I was able to find the problem quickly in a leaking hot water heater.





When I looked out the open back door of the grove house, I saw a red fox tied to a tree like a dog. The owner explained that they had found the fox as a baby and had bottle fed it. I walked up to her and she jumped up on my leg like a dog. Smiling at me as only a fox can she demanded to be petted. She was beautiful and totally friendly. It bother me a lot that she was tied to a tree. The people said they were going to sell her as they were afraid the neighbor dogs would eventually get her. No great guessing required to realize, I bought her. She would not be free with me but would at least be better off than at the end of a 6 foot rope.






Vixen and Kit really hit it off. They played, ran and tussled like puppies. She did become possessive of me though and would not allow Kit anywhere near me. I had hoped to tame him somewhat when he saw how she trusted humans. She would not allow it however.



One thing Vixen knew that Kit didn't, was that trees could be climbed. I had 3 large oak trees in the front yard that Vixen spent a lot of time in. Kit would look longingly at her but did not attempt to climb. He was content to dig complex burrows though out the yard in the soft Florida sand. That is until Vixen came into heat. Then Kit would "try" to navigate in the trees.



Vixen would be lying comfortably on a branch as Kit would shakily inch his way up the tree and out the limb toward her with all the nimbleness of a cow. You could see her agile little mind working. Nothing moved but her eyes. Just about the time he would reach her, she would jump to another branch leaving Kit with the awful task of backing slowly back down the tree. Such a tease she was. I had them ten years and while they tried to breed, he was just to heavy for her so there were no babies for which I was both disappointed and grateful.






Kit was the first to die. In the wild, foxes usually only live 3 years. In captivity, they reach 10 or 12 so I guess they were considered elderly at ten when it happened. I have no idea why Kit died for he showed no signs of illness. He was fine one night and gone by morning. Vixen pined terribly for him. The keening and incessant searching for Kit was hard to listen to and to watch. She would not be consoled. About 10 days later, she was also gone, I am not sure it wasn't of a broken heart.






I have never again been tempted to "own" a wild animal. They deserve to remain wild. While I truly felt at the time I was rescuing Kit and Vixen, it is just a shame that they needed rescuing. We interfere with the best of intentions, but we still interfere.


There is an interesting site about red foxes here .



8 comments :

  1. You are really full of surprises. I would have never guessed that you once had two foxes. I understand the desire to have these wild animals near. These foxes were quite beautiful. I once wanted to have a pet bobcat. If you look online you'll see there are places that sell them. I was shocked and dismayed. Some creatures really do need to stay wild.

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  2. Robin Andrea is right - you are full of surprises - AND good stories!! Your foxes were beautiful.

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  3. robin

    I had someone's "pet" bobcat come up to me once in the woods and scared me to death. First thougth was rabies. They were walking their bobcat thru the woods like a dog only leash free. Theirs was also a rescue that had imprinted with humans and could no longer be wild. She was beautiful and I know how you enjoy your sightings. I will never forget that close up encounter.
    Totally agree with you that "wild" should stay that way.

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  4. kenju

    Thanks. Just wish they could have been allowed to be free.
    Hope your appointment was full of good results. I'll check your blog now to see.

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  5. You have the most interesting stories! I love to read your blog because I never know what you'll be talking about next.

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  6. Gee Betty, me neither, but thanks so much. I just write about what ever comes to mind,not much in the way of a theme here. Just hope I don't lose people with all the twists and turns.

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  7. A fascinating story, Patti! I think foxes are beautiful and love to see them in the wild. There are a few red foxes in some still-wooded neighborhoods close to our church, and I occasionally see one running through a clearing, but I have also seen one hit (unavoidably) by the car in front of me one night. The young couple in the car were devastated that they had killed such a beautiful little creature. More and more animals (foxes and deer, mostly) are being forced from their homes by urban sprawl. It's a shame.

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  8. Pat
    Aren't they such beautiful creatures? Who ever started the saying "sly as a fox" really knew what they were saying. Mine always amazed me.
    Know how that couple must have felt. I still get upset over flattening squirrels on the roads.
    You are so lucky to have sightings of wild ones. I have only seen road kill here. Too bad there isn't room for all of us on this planet.

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