Fox Upon The Roof

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Some years ago I discovered foxes favoured my garage roof to relax. I would look out of my bedroom window, and to my surprise I would see them just chilling out and warming themselves in the golden rays of sunlight.

This was rather unusual to see as the foxes around here are normally quite shy and wary of humans, and are only seen at night.

But here they was, and for a few days after, months and years they would appear in exactly the same spot on the garage roof.

Even a new generation came to partake in this leisurely pursuit …

And maybe the same one a few months later …

The Red Fox has reddish fur with a long bushy tail and white undersides. The head is long and pointed with large ears which are extremely sensitive, and they can hear a mouse squeak at a distance of 100m.

They live in family groups, mainly establishing stable home ranges by marking their territories with urine. The group is led by a mated pair which monopolise breeding, and the subordinates in a group are usually the young of the pair. Subordinate foxes help in rearing vixen kits, and when they are old enough and the provision is there they will leave their family unit to win a territory of their own to enable their own reproductive cycle. They reproduce once a year in the spring, where the vixen gives birth to a litter of four to six cubs which are blind to begin with. The male helps brings food to the den until they are independent at between three to five months. The den maybe within thick vegetation or amongst dense tree roots. Foxes will also burrow into hillsides and live beneath the earth, especially in harsh winter conditions. Burrows can be up to 2.5 metres deep, formed with interconnecting tunnels and cave system. The main passage can be up to 17 metres in length. The city fox scavenges for food amongst the human waste we leave behind in bins or as litter on the ground, but it will also predate on pet rabbits and guinea pigs left outside in cages when it can. It will also hunt down wild animals such as rodents and leporines. As omnivores, they will also feed on insects and fruit, and even earthworms. They can live up to 10 years.

This solitary nocturnal hunter is rarely seen in the daytime where it lies amongst dense vegetation, instead preferring the shelter of the dark to hunt and prowl the countryside or urban streets. They are a common and widespread species.

Photographs taken February 2009 and August and November 2011, in rear garden sunning on garage roof, Staffordshire.

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