Foxes in the City

Enjoy stories from our readers about a family of urban foxes, an invasion of prowling predators in Marin County, and growing a delicious tomato cultivar.

Photo by Getty Images/taviphoto

Foxes in the City

Rebecca Martin’s editorial “A Wild Life” (September/October 2019) brought back one of my favorite wildlife memories — one that left quite an impression on me, as well as on my young son.

We sat completely still as a litter of fox kits cavorted inches from us. Mama Fox, returning from the hunt, barked a warning signal to her babies. They looked at us — the reason for her warning — to question her alarm, but remained fearless.

With frequent exposure to people, baby foxes have no fear of humans.  We discovered this during the years that two generations of a fox family lived under the porch of our house in Alexandria, Virginia. Mama Fox hunted at night, and we’d lie quietly on the porch watching her kits each morning until she returned. We were part of their natural scenery.  The following January, we rejoiced to find that some digging had produced an enlarged fox burrow. By February, a new mama had given birth to five kits, and the daddy went out hunting for food. He was so comfortable around us that we believe he was one of our original kits from the year before. He’d trot right past us, holding dinner in his mouth, and then disappear into the burrow to feed his growing family.

That April, he brought his kits out to play in our flower garden in front of the house late each evening. We watched from the picture window as the babies rolled and pounced on each other, bouncing on our bean plants, while their parents kept a lookout for danger. As the kits grew, their parents began leaving them alone when they went out to hunt. By May, the kits came out every evening to attack each other playfully, and roll down the hill outside our son’s bedroom window. One evening, they worked together to stalk a pair of wild ducks that were nesting in our hosta plants.  Daddy Duck let them get within a few feet, and then he attacked with his wings outspread. Five very startled, cowering kits ran for their burrow, squealing. We doubled over with laughter.

Now that we live in a rural area, with chickens and guinea fowl, we look more askance at foxes on our property, but we’re happy to let them roam the wooded areas. And we remember our fox family fondly for all the joy they brought us.  They transformed our lives, as they transformed their habitat to adapt to city life. It’s not uncommon to see the outward expansion of cities encroaching on the wooded and rural areas, pressing the red foxes to make their dwellings in parks and tree-lined neighborhoods.   

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