Fox cubs in the garden

28 May 2019 | Posted in Charlotte Owen , mammals
Fox cubs in the garden
fox cubs © Marilyn Dewar

By Charlotte Owen

WildCall Officer

Last night there were definitely two shoes outside the back door but this morning there is only one, and it’s been half-buried in a nearby flowerpot.  A punctured football has appeared behind the shed and the car-washing sponge, left out to dry, has been ripped into yellow confetti and scattered over the grass.  If you’ve been noticing curious incidents in the garden at night-time, you’ve probably been visited by fox cubs.

Born in March, they started life as little balls of black fluff with their eyes and ears still closed to the world.  Urban cubs are often born under a garden shed or similar outbuilding, which provides an ideal ready-made home.  Vixens can squeeze through surprisingly small gaps to access these areas and will enlarge them to their liking in preparation for the new arrivals.  They don’t bother with any bedding though and the cubs are born onto bare earth, typically four or five in a litter but sometimes up to 12.  They are completely reliant on their mother’s milk and warmth for the first two weeks of their lives, so she rarely leaves them unattended.  Staying hidden underground, she relies on her mate to hunt and bring her food while she keeps constant guard.

The cubs open their eyes at two weeks and begin a wobbly exploration of the den.  At four weeks they’ll venture outside for the first time, still a dark, chocolatey brown but beginning to moult into their adult coat and often looking quite patchy.  By six weeks the transformation is complete and their short ears and snub noses have elongated into distinctively foxy faces. 

They are now old enough to explore the garden with gusto.  Boisterous and inquisitive, they bound about with their siblings, playing, chasing and wrestling like typical puppies.  Anything left outside overnight is fair game, from gardening gloves to laundry, and these discovered ‘toys’ will be tossed, tugged, chewed and buried for safekeeping.  They will eventually grow out of this behaviour over the summer months as they become increasingly self-sufficient, and by September the cubs will be almost indistinguishable from their parents.

Comments

  • Peter Gasson:

    30 May 2019 11:15:00

    I’m also getting visitors overnight and finding all sorts of things from crisp bags to plastic flower pots with chewed edges very similar to when I had puppies, they are very excited to find raw chicken wings left out in the evening with fruit biscuits

  • Jean Fenney:

    30 May 2019 13:28:00

    We have 3 foxes that visit and share the hedgehogs food with them plus any scraps we leave out for them, they all seem to get on very well together

  • Anna Rahman:

    30 May 2019 14:22:00

    One form of fox cub play that I’ve observed for several years is that the cubs race up and down rows of onions and garlic; perhaps they like the sound of the long hollow leaves clattering. They often break the leaves and stop the growth of the bulb and I’ve stopped bothering with that particular crop.

  • Tessa Moore:

    30 May 2019 18:21:00

    My daughter in London has five fox clubs living under her decking to the despair of her dog. How long will they be living there? Thanks

  • Ed Edwards:

    30 May 2019 19:11:00

    Foxes are beautiful creatures

  • Jane Barlow:

    30 May 2019 20:30:00

    The foxes hav such regular routes each night the garden is a network of fox footpaths. I have to keep digging over the earth to stop the compression!

  • Libby Lovegrove:

    31 May 2019 02:48:00

    For the first time foxes have been sighted near Broome in the far north west of Australia where I live.

  • Jane baker:

    31 May 2019 07:23:00

    I have 4 foxes who turn up every morning @ 4am for breakfast. Last year we had 8. Lovely to watch . The blonde one we call Gloria Swansan.

  • Maria Prytz:

    31 May 2019 14:50:57

    I have 4 fox Cubs and mum living under my shed. They are out during the day sunbathing! And playing dusk till dawn. Mum comes out on her own about 7am to have some quiet time. It’s quite incredible.

  • Steve Dubois:

    16 Jun 2019 00:41:00

    I wish I’d known that the sound of cubs being moved wasn’t the sound of some animal being killed. It sounds brutal!

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