NATURE NARRATIVES: The fox pups in the sidewalk

By Melissa Walker
       One recent afternoon, I spotted three fox pups just by driving down a shady street in an old Colorado Springs neighborhood. The juvenile foxes were fending for themselves, at least for awhile, as no adult foxes were in sight.

A fox pup peeks out of its den below a broken slab of sidewalk.
Melissa Walker photo

       The adults were probably away from the den hunting for food for their fast-growing pups. One pup was lounging in the cool grass, while the other two reminded me of periscopes as they poked their heads out of two different holes in a broken sidewalk. A space under an old sidewalk had become a home for this family of red foxes.
       Red foxes live throughout most of the United States and Canada and are usually solitary. Quite common in Colorado Springs, this fox species is often seen in broad daylight, running through a neighborhood or park with its long, bushy tail streaming straight out.
       The red fox is fairly small, weighing only 10 to 15 pounds, and has thick reddish-orange fur, a bushy white-tipped tail, and black legs and feet. Like coyotes, red foxes are omnivorous and eat rodents, ground-nesting birds, berries and insects. However, mice are their main prey, and a grown male fox may eat as many as 100 mice in one week!
       Red foxes tend to live alone except during the spring breeding season. After the birth of the young, the male brings food to the female for several days as she stays in the den to nurse the pups. Soon, the pups require the hunting skills of both parents to provide enough food. In midsummer, the parents teach the young foxes how to hunt for themselves, and in autumn, the young members of the fox family will go their separate ways.

Walker, an area naturalist, has an online blog at naturenarratives.com. She has given her permission to reprint selected pieces in the Westside Pioneer.