I once submitted a photograph of a vixen and cub to a competition. The judge commented that the photo looked too posed to be a ‘natural history’ image and duly penalised it. This struck me as one of the more stupid judgements I had heard (and I have heard a lot of stupid judgements), as we can only dream of getting these beautiful creatures to pose for a camera. I suppose you could say the same for this fox photo of fantastic Mr Fox. “Look left a bit … ears forward … head up slightly … smile … no teeth … hold it!”
I’d always thought that the vixen raised its fox cubs by itself. For years, I have only seen a mother fox with its children, and they have always been very skittish. Well I was wrong. Apparently, it’s most common for fox cubs to be raised by monogamous parents, sometimes with the aid of a relative. They all share the same ‘earth’, which, in my case, has usually been a hole in a nearby hill or tree root. The adult foxes always hunt and forage alone. They are not pack animals. Maybe the presence of a daddy fox has enabled the rest of the family to be less skittish lately.
For the second year running, the father of the fox family has been on hand. This year’s dad looks healthy and bushy-tailed; whilst Mum looks scrawny and slightly bedraggled (don’t tell her I said that). The fact that Mum seems to do 99% of the work probably has nothing to do it. See, look how tired Dad is! It’s a hard life.