Foxes (All About)
The fox is one of our most common and familiar mammals. It is a native Irish species, and probably returned to Ireland after the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago by crossing a land bridge from Europe. It occurs in every county and estimates reckon that there are up to 200,000 foxes in the country. They can live in farmland, woodland, sand dunes, uplands and most successfully of all in built-up urban areas. They excavate underground dens or earths, where breeding foxes have their cubs. These are easily detected because the entrance will be strewn with food debris, as foxes are very untidy creatures. There will also be a very strong smell of fox.Read moreRead less
The breeding season occurs from late December to early February. At this time foxes communicate with each other by sound — the male with a series of barks and the female vixen with bloodcurdling screams. The cubs are born between late February and the end of April. There are normally four or five cubs and it takes up to seven months before they are fully grown. Many young foxes die in their first year as they are unable to establish territory and can die of hunger or are killed on the roads. If they do succeed they can live up to ten years. Foxes are omnivores, which means they can eat food of animal and of vegetable origin. They are opportunists and will eat a great variety of food such as rabbits, young hares, brown rats and mice as well as small birds, eggs and nestlings, beetles and earthworms, and coastal foxes eat crabs and fish They like blackberries and apples too but of course they have a bad reputation because they kill chickens and eat dead lambs, and are not above killing the odd baby lamb or two as well.
In cities people are quite fond of foxes and they often feed the foxes that visit their garden looking for scraps from the dustbin. Fox cubs are often left alone all day while their parents are looking for food and they can come out of the earth and play in the garden in good weather — a sight which pleases homeowners in urban areas.
Things to do
1. Read Roald Dahl’s book Fantastic Mr. Fox and Run with the Wind by Tom McCaughren.
2. There are several fox songs such as “Maidrín rua” and “Little fox” which are great fun to sing. Download the words and tunes from the internet.