By ANN BROKELMAN
I have spent the last 10 days watching all sorts of animals and birds on Prince Edward Island, but it was the foxes that made this a trip to remember.
While away I not only saw the red foxes, like the ones we have here in Ontario, but an abundance of the two common mutations: the cross fox and the silver fox. The red fox is the original colour of the Vulpes Vulpes and the colour we traditionally associate with foxes.
They are actually born black or brown and don’t start developing their reddish tones until they are around two to three months old.
Their chests and undersides are white, and they always have white tips on their tails.
The silver fox is actually just the melanistic form of the red fox.
If that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry: I had to look it up too.
Melanism is the opposite of albinism, only it’s dark pigments that are overly developed instead of light ones. It is very common in some species.
Many of us are familiar with black panthers, but they are just the melanistic versions of the leopard/jaguar.
Did you know that the black squirrels that run around Toronto are just the melanistic versions of grey squirrels?
Silver foxes will always have black legs, tails, ears, and muzzles and have splashes of silver across the rest of their bodies.
Cross foxes are the result of the mating between a red fox and a silver fox.
These foxes have a cross pattern on their back, which extends onto their shoulders and neck.
Their face, ears, tail, chest, and belly are black while the rest is reddish.
I try to do a little extra reading about the animals I’m photographing, and I found a couple interesting facts that I’d like to share:
Did you know that a group of foxes is called a skulk or a leash?
Did you know a fox has long whiskers on their face and legs to help them navigate the land? Did you know the male red fox is called a dog, the female a vixen and babies are kits?
It was an amazing trip, but of course I’m very glad to be home.
Upon my return I was happy to hear my orioles still calling and see them visiting my feeders.
I also saw catbirds, goldfinches, and my local red-tail hawk being chased around by the red-winged blackbirds.
Even more exciting was that my husband told me our own local fox had visited every day while I was away.
Shortly thereafter I saw the fox for myself. He was actively hunting, marking his territory, and looked healthy.
Remember that if you see a fox in the wild, enjoy watching it, but please do so from a safe distance, and never feed them.
They get all the food they need in the wild and we don’t want them to think they can rely on handouts from people to supplement their diet.
If you think a fox is hurt, in distress, or starving, please contact your local wildlife rescue organization.