This spring, my Mom’s been sharing pictures via email of a family of foxes who seem to have settled into a den beneath a service shed on the grounds of her school in the Adirondacks. I thought you’d enjoy a little something different today, so here they are.
These first shots, when the kits are much smaller, were taken about a month ago, when they emerged from their wintering, to the amazement and entertainment of teachers and students alike–talk about your magic teaching moments, and right outside the window!
For the uninitiated, the fox cubs generally emerge from the den for the first time about five weeks after they are born. Usually, the emergence coincides with their being weaned from their mom.
The kits are adorable and love to play, as you can see…but it makes you think about the job of the mother fox…and moms, in general
There’s at least six (the whole family can be seen in one picture below, if you look closely) of the little buggers and they must be quite a handful.
Although they have been weaned, cubs generally stay with their mom throughout the summer, as they learn to hunt for themselves.
Mother Fox must help them with grooming, find them food and water, play with them and teach them all the things they’ll need to know in their grown-up lives, while making sure she knows where each one is, protecting them from free-running dogs and other potential predators and all the dangers of the Great Big World.
Generally, male foxes will go off on their own at summer’s end, but some will remain with the family until they are ready to begin their own families. Females generally stay with their mother longer.
Mom has to gather up the family, too, when she senses there are Others in the area…
…like the afternoon when she sent the kits into hiding just before this deer family came grazing onto the scene.
I have a feeling that even for foxes, the moments moms like best are the ones when they can relax just a little, and enjoy the company of her kits.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thanks for the pictures, but more, thanks for all the things you’ve done for me and taught me, all of which have served me well since leaving the den!! I love you!