by Jon, High Park Nature Center
Elusive, secretive and shy, Red Foxes, Vulpes vulpes, live in High Park and stay active all winter long. Foxes can wrap their thick tails around their feet and face to keep warm in the coldest conditions. And they manage to find enough food to survive.
On a Nature Centre outing in fall 2010, the group noticed 2 entrances about 25 cm wide and a large pile of excavated sand was outside one of them. One of the participants decided this was the “porch”. Red Fox’s underground burrows can be up to 25 m long but judging by the amount of sand, this one isn’t that long. Dens are often on a south-facing slope to maximize warm sunlight and have a good view of the surrounding area.
Hunting for Food
The fox's diet is quite varied and the mix changes with the seasons. In the winter foxes eat mostly meat: meadow voles, mice and squirrels. Remains of a fox’s meal can often be found just outside their dens. With difficult winter hunting conditions, foxes rely heavily on these senses to catch enough food for survival. Foxes have excellent sight, smell and hearing. Amazingly, foxes can locate mice beneath deep snow through use of their hearing.
Amazingly, foxes can locate mice beneath deep snow through use of their hearing.
This video shows the fox’s unbelievable winter hunting skills (Fox Snow Dive - Yellowstone - BBC Two on YouTube):
You may also see some fox tracks. Fox tracks look very similar to domestic dog tracks. However, there are some differences. Dogs tend to explore their surroundings somewhat randomly. Foxes don’t have this luxury and hunt very purposefully. Their tracks reflect this: a dog’s seem random while a fox’s are often straight and careful.