Foxy frolic

Play is an important activity in honing future hunting and fighting skills in birds and mammals.  The  activity level of the fox kits on the compost pile above their den must have been building their aerobic endurance as well as their hunting skills, as they chased each other over and around the pile, every now and then pausing to check out which sibling to attack next.  They reminded me of my own children’s frenetic activity around dinner time — noisy, chaotic, and uncontrollable.  Here are a few glimpses of what the action looked like.

poised to attack

One is poised to attack

Three kits continually engaged in chase and wrestle maneuvers.

Three kits continually engaged in chase and wrestle maneuvers.

Locking jaws with one another was also a popular game.

Locking jaws with one another was also a popular game.

Practicing the pounce maneuver...

Practicing the pounce maneuver…

Aha!  it turns out there are actually five kits in this litter.

As more kits join in the fun, I was able to see that there are actually five kits in this litter.

The more I watch them, the easier it is to see that there are three fairly large kits aggressively attacking each other, and two more submissive and smaller ones.  Is this a sex difference?

The more I watched them, the easier it was to see that there were three fairly large kits playing quite aggressively with each other, and two more submissive and smaller ones.  The kit in the center of the frame seems to exhibit dominance behavior toward the smaller, submissive kit in the lower right:  ears slightly back, raised upper body, head and eyes staring down.

I think this is the small, runty one from the previous photo.  Developmentally, it is not as far along as the others:  short muzzle, less black markings, short legs.

This might be the small, runty one from the previous photo. Developmentally, it is not as far along as the others: short muzzle, less black markings, short legs.

Compare studly big boy here with the previous photo.  This is one of the dominant, aggressive kits.

Compare the physique of studly big boy here with the previous photo. This is one of the dominant, aggressive kits.

Is there anything cuter?

Is there anything cuter?

Now, if you’re really into this foxy frolic, here’s a YouTube video I made for my little grand-daughter (and for Marcia, too, who loves foxes).

10 thoughts on “Foxy frolic

  1. This story keeps getting better and better. The action shots of the kits playing are wonderful and I really enjoy your commentary, pointing out specific behaviors and traits that I would probably miss otherwise. The light seems really beautiful in the shots, giving the fur a kind of glow. I don’t know how much longer you will have this privileged view, but I am utterly fascinated by the continuing saga.

    • Thanks, Mike. Each day I try something new to entice the foxes closer to me or to get a different view. Tune in tomorrow for a view of the fox and the hotdog.

  2. The photos are fantastic, Sue! Your blind was well worth it. I’ll bet you find lots more chances to use it in the future, after the fox kits are grown and gone. Should be good for bird photography, as well. At any rate, these are fantastic, and the video was adorable, too. Love the song, as well. Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us, and you are right. I really love foxes, and nothing could be cuter than that last shot. The backlighting on his fur is just so dramatic and lovely! Great post to wake up to.

    • Thanks, Marcia. Yes, I think the blind may work well down by the ponds this summer to get closer to the herons and egrets. Hope so anyway.

    • I don’t know about that– the runty kit is only about half the size of the others, and probably doesn’t compete well for what is made available by the parents.

  3. Thanks for sharing the photos and video. You are fortunate to be able to watch the kits play and interact as they prepare to be out on their own.

    • It has been a real treat to watch the kits develop and change so much over just one week. I’m not sure how much longer they will stay, but the past week has been much more than I expected to see.

  4. Pingback: foxy faces | Back Yard Biology

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