The manuscript for Mystery of the Missing Fox might be in my editor’s hands for review, but that doesn’t mean the research stops. Especially when it involves fox kits.
Truth be told, even without the story, I’d be researching them.
This year, there’s five in all. The mother has already moved them once, perhaps because the campground seemed to get busy overnight. Perhaps because a predator wandered through her territory (last year she moved them after a coyote put his nose in her den; my trail camera picked it up)
When I visit, I crawl forward to sit in the woods, 150 feet from the den. At first, the kits stare at me through sapling branches, trying to figure if I’m friend or foe.
When I don’t move closer, make noise or even raise my camera, they relax a bit. But they don’t fool me, they always know exactly where I am.
Once they feel safe again, the research and fun starts, and I raise my camera.
At first, the kits approach their brothers and sisters very innocently.
They might even give a friendly, hey!-you-sleeping?, tap of the paw.
And the next thing you know, they’re nibbling each others ears! Or feet. Or tail.
They roll around on the ground, no noise, no squeaks or growls that I can hear. Which is good, because their mother isn’t close by to protect them from predators. (She was either out hunting, or watching me from a distance, as I watch her kits)
Just when one kit seems to be getting the best of their sibling, a third comes to the rescue!
When the play has wound down, the kits curl up together. No hard feelings on either side. That’s my cue to go.
I hope the best for this year’s litter.
Stay safe little ones.