The cubs are coming along well now; the Vixen is trying to wean the cubs off her milk and move them to the next stage of their development. It is a great time of year to observe the youngsters as they will be above ground for longer periods particularly if the earth is on the leeward side of the wind and it is a warm day. The vixen will lay away from them during the day to discourage the cubs from pressing her for milk. Instead she will concentrate on bringing small items of food back for them. She will do this often and will try not to leave them for too long; the Dog Fox will take turns watching over the cubs whilst the Vixen is away but they will sometimes go off together which causes casual observers to consider that the youngters have been abandoned; this is rarely the case.
With the Cubs coming on and the Vixen and Dog needing to find food, the pressure on local wildlife increases. The adults, desperate to be good parents, will go after all available quarry. Pets are most vulnerable, pet Rabbits in poorly consructed hutches will be gone. The wild Rabbit population also provide a lot of food to the Foxes; small, un-educated kits are easy meals and perfect for the cubs to get the hang of solid food. Lambs are most vulnerable and provide good nutrition to the young family. The stronger Dog Fox can be seen in the fields separating joints from a lamb to take back to the earth. Whole, day-old Lambs will be taken short’ish distances to encourage the cubs to start ripping their own meat from carcasses.
This leads us onto Lamb protection which is a large subject and one I wish to convey in a separate article. With Covid19 and the issues it has brought about this year there is much work being done behind the scenes but an appropriate time will be found to cover the subject in more depth.