Flying foxes

[I’m not done with Kenya, but now that I’m back in Maine there are some stories that demand to be told.]

A neighbor told me about a red fox family in an open field close to the road, so I jumped in the truck. The first two photos were taken by Heinrich Wurm in early May, when there were six cubs, aged around four to six weeks old, and still nursing:

By the time I got back from Kenya there were only four cubs left, now aged between eight and nine weeks old. The remaining photos are mine.

They come out of the den in the early evening:

The sand is the output of the mother’s den construction, conveniently visible in the otherwise grassy meadow. The cubs don’t seem to stray too far from the den just yet, and if I stay in the truck they are not bothered by my presence. Watch them play:

A week later, on a sunnier evening, they were practicing their hunting skills. They would levitate and then pounce down on top of either a mouse,

or a sibling:

They jumped quite high, hard to convey in a photo.

Then the mother arrived, carrying what appeared to be a dead bird:

A cub appeared and she gave it the bird. Two of the cubs disappeared with their prey (or toy?) into the undergrowth. I can’t imagine this is much food divided between four cubs, but they certainly looked healthy.

To end, a portrait of the mother:

and a cub:

PS: There are many species of fox worldwide, and here in Maine we have both red and gray foxes. I found myself wondering whether these reds are the same species as the British red foxes, and the answer seems to be that nobody really knows. British settlers may have brought some European foxes, Vulpes vulpes, from the old country over to have the right kind of fox to hunt, and they may have interbred with local foxes, Vulpes fulva, but this seems to have been mainly in the Eastern US near settlements, and the native bloodlines still seem to have survived. For more details, read here:

PPS In England many people loathe foxes, especially in cities, where they have adapted remarkably successfully to urban living, and become a pest. Read (or watch) Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox to get a sense of the British attitude to foxes! Here in Maine anyone who has chickens hates them, but a lot of the rest of us (including me) rather like them.

PPS My title is due to Linda Wurm. Thankyou Linda!

2 thoughts on “Flying foxes”

  1. I think they are beautiful animals, have seen them passing thru our yard, several times, once looking right at me from the patio, only about 10′ away, (I was inside) with I think a squirrel in it’s mouth.


  2. While I was reading this, I heard “my” red (little) fox in my garden in Geneva. They are cute but make a very strange hoarse sound. We saw some red foxes in the Alps this past weekend.
    They are practically tame. I love your photos and video of the family!


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