I was mowing the yard at our other house Saturday. Usually my biggest concern is cutting the passion vine back from an abandoned butterfly garden in an extra lot. Suddenly, I was startled by what I thought was a huge yellow/brown cat jumping out of the weeds. The animal ran across the street and stopped 15 feet from me and turned. It was a fox and he was giving me the evil eye. He must have decided picking a fight with a John Deere riding mower was more than he could handle. He turned and ran into a wooded lot across the street.
Later in the day I saw my neighbor, Dottie. She had an encounter with a kit in early summer. The little one was sitting outside her screen cage talking to her two cats. They were having quite a conversation. Dottie took her cats inside and later saw the kit under her shrub. After the second sighting she was concerned the mother had not come to find her kit. Before long she heard the howling from the mother and the little one took off running.
According to www.floridiannature.com and pelotes.jea.com, the Florida fox is common in neighborhoods across Florida. The fox is 10 to 15 pounds and up to 2 feet long. The tail is a foot long and bushy.
The one I saw was chestnut and golden color but can be rusty red with a white underbelly. Their ear tips and legs are black. Their diets consists of insects, earthworms, berries, fruit, mice, rabbits, birds, eggs, frogs, fish and worms.
The fox has an acute sense of hearing and can locate dinner in thick grass or underbrush and then pounce. They usually hunt alone and are possessive of their food. If they kill more than they can eat, they may store the extra in the ground. The fox has a home range up to five miles when hunting and will pee on areas they have already checked for food. The urine is a reminder they have already been there.
The fox breeds in late fall or early winter and will mate for life. The den is usually 20-40 feet long and up to 4 feet deep with many entrances. The fox may have more than one den and move the family while the pups are growing up. The proud parents welcome up to five pups after 53 days. The pups are blind when born for the first nine days and stay with the parent for six months. At three months the parents bring mice back to the pups to practice hunting and eating. In October the pups head out on their own. The females from the litter may stay and help mom raise the next litter.
Foxes are the same family as wolves, coyotes and dogs. The fox will howl and whine but only bark when they are giving a warning. The gray fox can scramble up a tree quickly and is the only member of the dog family able to climb.
The fox was very pretty and furry, but remember they can catch rabies. Foxes are very shy so if you encounter a friendly fox call animal control. Do not feed, touch, or approach a wild animal like the fox. Just admire from a distance.