Posted by: Wild Instincts | May 12, 2011

Fox Foster

On 5/5/11 Wild Instincts admitted a female orphan red fox kit. She had been found in a window well. Attempts by the recoverer to locate her den were unsuccessful. Freeing her from the window well and placing her so she could go back to her den on her own resulted in her simply diving into the window well again.

So we admitted the first red fox of 2011.

Fox are very social and having a buddy of the same species (called a conspecific) to be raised with is best. We put word out to other rehabbers in the area as normal protocol. If someone else has a singleton, they either take ours or we take theirs.

Add to the situation we are under construction. We could keep her for a while, but we don’t have a pre-release conditioning cage completed at this time.

While we were contemplating how and when and where to transfer her, a wonderful supporter, wildlife advocate & wildlife photographer sent a note of encouragement to us. She knows we’ve been working inhumane hours and often having cold cereal for supper about 9:30pm. She had no idea we had admitted a fox kit but as a morale booster she sent photos of the fox kits playing outside their den in a corner of her yard.

For three years, they have had a fox including part of their yard as part of her territory. This year she had a litter of kits.

Fox vixens are reputed to be pretty accepting of others. While we routinely place orphan bear cubs with denning bear sows, we had never tried it with a fox kit. Mostly because it’s rare to know exactly where a den is and how many kits are already being cared for. We certainly wouldn’t place a foster with a mom if it would tax the resources available to all.

This set up was perfect- a fox den that could be monitored daily from a safe distance, a vixen used to human activity in the area and a known litter size of 3-4.

On May 10th, we decided to try to “wild foster” our fox kit into this den.

Because the vixen was already used to the landowners’ scents and activities, it was decided she would be the one to place our fox near the entrance of the den. As soon as our kit was on the ground, she scrambled in the den to her soon-to-be siblings. A quick peek in revealed acceptance from the youngsters; the vixen was out hunting. When she came home, her new surprise kit would smell more like her den, increasing the chances of successful adoption.

We’ve received a couple updates with photos from her we’d like to share:

“Mark (friend and rehabber extraordinnaire) from Wild Instincts brought a sweet little orphaned fox kit to today for introduction into our fox family.  Since mama fox and kits are used to my scent, he suggested that I do the release into the den.   My husband was only able to get one picture (holding kit in my gloved hand) before I set him in with the others (mama fox gone hunting).   No snarls or growls or sounds of any kind  — good news!   Later I sat behind the den, watched and waited.  ALL the kits came out on the logs……… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!   (Indeed, there was an original 4th kit as I suspected.)   The orphaned kit (a bit smaller) was very shy coming out at first, but when he did, one of his adopted siblings engaged him in some play (bottom middle).   It was such a remarkable sight!   And having the scent of one of the other kits will increase the probability of mama fox excepting him even more.”

Getting ready to place orphan fox near den (copyright T.Kirk)Checking out the newly arrived "family" member (copyright T. Kirk)


Checking out the newest family member. A new playmate! (copyright T. Kirk)

“The fox family here last night cut loose into a wild and playful mood!   All five kits (which includes the newly introduced orphaned) tumbled, ran, and froliced with Mama Fox for almost an hour.  They were moving so fast that it was hard to get pictures.   Mama fox has always been very camera shy, but she was so engaged in play with the kits that she didn’t seem to mind.  We’re so thankful that the ‘adoption’ went well! “ 

Happy family increased by one! (copyright T. Kirk)



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