Discover nature this week and be on the look-out for a glimpse of red fox kits hunting with their parents.
There are two species of foxes in Missouri – the red and the gray fox. Red foxes prefer the borders of forested areas and adjacent open lands while gray foxes live in wooded areas and fairly open brush land.
Foxes are primarily nocturnal but may come out in daylight, especially in late morning or early evening. Because they often travel over the same routes, worn and well-marked trails develop. Foxes can run about 26 miles per hour at top speed but slow down after the initial spurt.
At birth, the pups are blind and helpless and weigh about 3 1/2 ounces. At about a month old, the pups begin to come out of the den and play in front of it with bones and left-over food items. They are fed here, too, by the adults. Although the parents carry away the droppings and foods that spoil, the outside of a fox den has an untidy appearance and often an unpleasant odor. Foxes also show the dog-like trait of rolling on strong-smelling objects. If the young are moved to another den, the parents frequently take play things along. When the young are about 10 weeks old, they leave the den vicinity for the first time and accompany their parents on hunting trips until the family parts ways in fall.
Where foxes are numerous, economic loss can be avoided by reducing vegetation around poultry houses, providing an enclosed area for chickens, and having an alert watchdog.
To keep track of current natural events like when to watch for young fox kits on their first hunting expedition you can get your own Natural Events Calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.