David Element

 

Wildlife Photography and Digital Video Images

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Mammals 5 - Red Foxes

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOX Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOX Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOX Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOX Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOX Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOX Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOX Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOXES Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOXES Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

 

                                                                                                                        RED FOXES Vulpes vulpes (f)

 

·         These photographs of two Red Fox Vulpes vulpes vixens were taken in October 2019. The older vixen (first seen in 2016) had by this time been visiting for more than three years and her total trust in the photographer should be evident from her relaxed demeanour in most of these images. If she is looking up it is in response to noises from elsewhere and she is not watching the camera, a certain sign of this lack of concern. She is two years older than the second vixen (born in 2018) but she has also become relaxed in the presence of the photographer, partly by association with the older vixen as observation of her behaviour would have given her a greater level of confidence that might have otherwise been the case. Foxes are very expressive animals and facial expressions, vocalisations and body-language are all used in their communications. During the breeding season the position of this vixen in the social hierarchy was higher than it would have been at other times of the year and the other two local adults showed her respect. However, during the remaining months, she will be more respectful of the older vixen and if irritated she will flatten her ears, raise her tail and express her displeasure by whining softly. Conflict between the two does occur (follow hyperlink to David’s films below for some live action!) but this behaviour is related to the time of the year and to the hormonal changes that occur, particularly during the breeding season. Sometimes there will be noisy confrontations in which both animals will rear up on their hind legs facing one another and screaming loudly and occasional bites may be inflicted without causing any serious injuries (causing significant harm is not the intention between two animals that know each another as well as these two do) but more often than not a submissive posture will be adopted in which either fox will turn its back towards the other in submission so there will be no escalation. There has never been any conflict at all between the older vixen and the old dog fox that visits regularly and they have never been observed to fight. It is possible that they are related as both are several years old and the older vixen in these photographs does sometimes groom him (so possible paternity cannot be ruled out). Interestingly this behaviour has never been seen to have been reciprocated. There is a significance in the fact that the younger vixen is lying behind the older vixen in the 8th and 9th photographs – hierarchy! In the final picture the two foxes were cleaning themselves with a spot of mutual assistance as it had just been raining so heavily that it would not have been possible for them to have avoided it. The younger vixen is on the right. The older vixen doesn’t like the rain very much and she will often delay visiting until it has stopped or seek shelter under a bush. For several years it had been believed that the older vixen had been a male – until a first litter of cubs was produced when she was four years old!

 

·         A playlist of over 30 of David’s films illustrating the behaviour of Red Foxes in intimate close-up may be found at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4AirIEc0Noe0MUItMCsgolXpQ0sr_Vx9.

 

 

 

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