Dinner Delayed Due To Foxes

The Engineer usually gets out of bed before I do. I’m still at a point where my body, eleven weeks out from a double surgery, periodically says “You WILL lie down now” and there’s not much I can do about it. And I don’t wake up zippy some mornings.

But when a big bearded man yells “Oh my GOODNESS!” and kind of squees, even if seven a.m.  feels too early, you really have to haul yourself up.

“It’s a family of foxes,” he said.

And there on the lawn behind mine — the back of my lot faces the side of hers, which is a little down the slope, so I get a full view — was a big gingery mama fox with a riotous litter of kits, already grown to about the size of our smaller cats. Like kittens, they were tumbling, wrestling, pouncing, bouncing, literally pronking, and chasing each other around the neighbor’s shed. I suspect they were born there. Mama was hanging out in a mulched but unplanted garden border by the far fence, and periodically they all rushed her, nursed for half a minute or so, and went back to what looked like a furry multiplex espresso jag.

It was very hard to tear ourselves away and get dressed.

“Foxes are crepuscular,” I remarked. “They’ll probably be back out there in the evening.”

Which they were. I had been about to mention it, and then the Engineer, who was putting a light collation on the table, stopped in midstride and squee’d again. We had thought there were four kits, but now we could clearly see five in the fading light, even more coked-up than they had been in the morning, with Mom nowhere in sight. Hunting? Watching from behind the shed?

After a bit of frustrated searching I finally found the binoculars that someone gave me one year at Christmas because he was sure I would enjoy birding. I consider birdwatching right up there with watching beige paint dry, but seeing the little black tufts on the fox kits’ ears and trying to make out the white tail tip the farsighted Engineer swore he saw, now that is worth delaying dinner. We watched till the light went bad.

My neighbor has a senile Dachshund that never goes in the yard without her, so I’m not really concerned for it, and you would hope she knows the Dionne Fox Quintuplets are living in her shed, but maybe I should say something? Only I’d hate for her to get all salty and call some Critter Getter outfit. The kits will be off to stake out their own territories pretty soon, and everyone knows the hood has foxes, you just don’t see them often. I feel bad for the bunnies, but without Brother and Sister Fox we would probably be hip deep in rabbits like the Australian outback.

I couldn’t get photos at that distance, but about this age and color. Sort of a muted ginger.

I think dinner is going to be late for a while.


5 thoughts on “Dinner Delayed Due To Foxes

    • Even more so when they’re only weeks old and tumbling around the lawn.

      I am glad, nonetheless, that I seem to have scooped up all the stray cats in the immediate area and accommodated them in my house.

  1. Can you believe it? I lived in the Maryland suburbs and all over Maryland all my life and never saw a fox. Then about 2010, I was living in Ocean City, because the only job I qualified for after collapse of the newspaper biz was motel desk clerk. And I started seeing foxes trotting across the highway. Pretty sure they live in the big dunes, which are fenced off to humans to protect the dune grass and the dunes themself, which protect the expensive real estate from the fury of the ocean. Protect it for a little while longer, perhaps. Few things are more insecure than a barrier island. Don’t invest in beachfront property. Long story short, all suddenly, foxes are everywhere! And I hear there are COYOTES living in nearly every suburb in the U.S. and in half the cities! Let me know if you see a coyote in your neighbor’s yard.

    • Oh, we’ve had coyotes show up around here off and on for years. A couple-three on the bike path north of me, by report. A coyote might have been in my yard the night that Torvald, of blessed memory, went ballistic over something outside and tried to eat my face (our first guess was raccoon, but who knows?)

      I think the fox colony will keep any other large predator at arm’s length for a while.

      • Wow, and you are in the close-in Northern Virginia suburbs. I’ve never heard of coyotes in Montgomery county or PG on the Maryland side, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Counterintuitively, coyotes may be more drawn to urbanized areas than some rural areas. Wherever humans congregate, there is also garbage to be eaten, and rats, cats, and other small animals. I don’t think coyotes have any natural predators in urban areas. In rural areas, farmers won’t hesitate to shoot them if they threaten livestock, or even if they don’t. It’s nice to know that foxes are back. I’m not sure if coyotes are a danger to adult humans, but obviously small children might be in danger.

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