Foxes are frequently seen by members pounding the local streets.

Here’s a few facts about Brer Fox

Adaptability is the key to the fox's success in colonising our towns and has ensured his survival. His taste in food is wide - he can live on fruit and berries, insects, carrion or a mixture, or whatever is available, perhaps in your dustbin! What he eats depends on where his territory is, country or town.

Adult Fox Copyright Martin Hemmington (National Fox Welfare Society)A Social Animal: You probably only catch sight of him at night on his own, making use of his astounding senses of smell and hearing, not to mention touch through long stiff hairs on his body, to locate dinner. He may be an itinerant but more likely is part of a family group of dominant dog and vixen, producing a litter each year. If food is plentiful, there may be subordinate group members related to the dominant vixen, who help her rear her cubs.

Adult Fox Photo Copyright Martin Hemmington (National Fox Welfare Society)

'Til death us do part' : The dominant pair mate for life.

Problems facing the fox : A favourite creature in myths and stories, Brer Fox now has no natural large predators except, of course, man and his machines. Once hunted for his fur to adorn a lady's neck, he now has more to fear from the Sarcoptic mite, which causes Sarcoptic mange. This was noted in Bristol in 1994 and decimated the fox population virtually overnight. (Don’t mistake moulting for mange.)

Problems with foxes: Not everyone welcomes foxes into their garden. There are those who feed them and love to fox-watch, and those who consider them a nuisance. The poor old fox has little legal protection, but there are ways of discouraging him, if you really must. (See below)

A blood-thirsty killer? You allknow the story of the fox and the slaughtered chickens. Don't YOU go to the local shop and stock up your fridge and freezer for the next few days? If you offer Fox a full larder of chickens, he will kill more than one to stock up. He 'caches' his food for a rainy day. It's no different from your family pet dog trying to hide his bone. The answer is, make chicken coops and family pets' cages fox proof.

Blood curdling screams: You may hear these during the winter months. Foxes make loud contact calls, and the blood curdling screams and triple barks will be heard in the build up to the peak mating period early in the New Year.

A Fox's Calendar: Jan mating season Feb vixen looks for earth Mar birth of cubs Apr Cubs emerge, adults start moult May cubs eat solid food Jun earth abandoned Jul cubs lie up above ground in brambles Aug cubs forage for themselves Sep cubs full grown Oct Moult complete. Family group starts to break up Nov much more fighting between sub-adults and adults Dec foxes vocal and defend territory as mating season approaches

Fox Territory : In an area with typical 1930s housing, a fox may have a territory of 25-40 hectares (about one tenth to one fifth of a square mile). This would be larger in a more densely built up area. He might be active for 8 hours in the night and would cover an average distance of 5 miles.

More information. If you want to find out more about Earley foxes, three recommended books are:
Urban Foxes by Stephen Harris (the expert on foxes) Whittet Books ISB 1 873580 51 7, tells you everything you need to know,
Foxwatching by Martin Hemmington
Whittet Books ISBN 1 873580 31 2, if you want to foxwatch and
Unearthing the Urban The Fox Project, if you have problems.

Useful websites: The Fox Project and National Fox Welfare Society; both these sites give lots of information, as well as advice on the mange. They sell the books and other merchandise.

Thanks to Sheila Crowson for this article and to Martin Hemmington of the National Fox Welfare Society for allowing EEG to use his photo of the adult fox.
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