Hunting with a fox.

I like to take pictures and watch animals in Nature and one animal that gives me pleasure to observe is the fox. Near where I live, in a botanical garden, 5 foxes can be observed right now coming and going. By observing them one can really understand why they do what they do. On that day, last Saturday, it was clear that this particular fox was hungry and on the hunt.

The area to catch a squirrel was perfect; situated where trees were well spaced out the fox first crouched and appeared to be flat on the ground, looking similar to a cat ready to pounce on a mouse. It then advanced slowly, crouching all the time. It was immobile except when it advanced slowly, inching towards the target. It looked a lot like a cat.

The squirrel seemed oblivious to the fox as the fox did not move an inch. It waited and got closer until suddenly the fox sprang up and pounced rapidly on the squirrel. The element of surprise worked clearly in the foxes favor. I am always surprised at the speed of the fox looking more like a cheetah going after a big prey in Africa.

What happened then was a whirlwind of action as the fox tried to run down the squirrel. On this occasion the fox succeeded and brought down the squirrel in an ideal area as there were no trees to climb to escape the clutches of the fox. I could hear several squeals from the squirrel as I was not too far from the scene. The fox had bitten the prey. I could see no blood being spilled but was it over?

The squirrel was not dead and so the fox began pawing at it, giving it several shots to the head it seemed. The squirrel appeared to be dead, appearing quite immobile. And then suddenly the squirrel rose up and made a run for the trees that were further away. Not a chance. The fox sprang on it and bit it in the neck again.

At that point one would think that the squirrel was dead. But once again, for the last time, it tried to get away and attempted to run. Once again the fox is too quick and this time bit it and carried it in its mouth. No more squealing. The squirrel hung limply in the mouth of the fox, with the head dropping on one side and the rest of the body on the other side. It looked very nice and I did take several shots of it as I was not too far. Not for the squeamish obviously.

Not content to put the squirrel in its mouth the fox bit several more times and elicited no responses. The squirrel had passed away we could safely say. It then took its prey and ate it under a tree, well hidden from the other foxes that might be tempted to steal it.

The behavior of this fox was different from the behavior of other adult foxes as this one was a juvenile, being born in March. Older foxes would have snapped the neck of the squirrel more rapidly. This one seemed ignorant in how to kill a squirrel rapidly and cleanly. At times it seemed to be playing with it. And maybe it was, playing with its prey and knowing that it could not escape.

I was happy with my outing, having spent a good 30 minutes following that particular fox. On that occasion at least it was able to eat but often the squirrel is too quick. I was happy as the light was good and my pictures were nice. But the squealing of the squirrel was still ringing in my ears hours later….

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