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January 10, 2014

Red or gray, foxes are one of nature's wonders

(Continued)

The fox would have fared far better if he had been hunting for that chipmunk up in the trees. In the trees? Sure, gray foxes are rather catlike and will climb trees and even jump from limb to limb while searching for food.

Red foxes are different. They prefer more open areas, living in farm land and even urban areas. Red foxes are very adaptable and cunning. The phrase “sly as a fox” fits them perfectly.

Over the years I’ve watched quite a few red foxes. A vixen raised four pups in an old woodchuck hole along the hedge row above our house one summer. It was fun watching those little guys come out and play. They would run and chase, tackle one another and wait for mom to return with lunch.

I decided one day to see how close I could get to them before they finally disappeared into the hole. Those pups had seen me many times and I got within 20 yards before the last pup scampered into hiding, but I hadn’t turned around and got another 10 yards away before I saw his little head peeking out of the den once more.

The gray and red fox differ in many ways. The gray fox’s snout is shorter.

The red fox’s tail is far bushier and is even used to keep it warm in the winter. The red fox will cover itself up with its tail like a blanket. A red fox’s pelt is lush and soft, but the gray’s is coarse and stiff.

Two foxes – so much alike but so very different. They live in close proximity yet seldom mingle and never mix. Just another example of Mother Nature’s wonders.

Isn’t it great?

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at robrockway@hotmail.com.

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