It is breeding season for the foxes. You may have heard the blood-curdling calls at night. They pair up and hunt and roam together for a few weeks before mating to strengthen a bond. Foxes create strong emotional bonds and tend to stay with their partner for life and only find another breeding partner if death occurs and after a time of mourning.
The Vixen will dig a new nursery den to "earth down" in. This is normally amongst tree roots, between rock crevices sometimes using one end of a badger sett while the badgers use the other or commonly under sheds.
After a gestation period of approximately 50 days the cubs are born blind, deaf and defenseless in early spring. They rely on their mothers milk and for the first two weeks she does not leave the den while the dog fox brings her food.
At about 4 to 5 weeks old the cubs are strong enough to start venturing from the den and their brown coat starts to turn red. They also start to play and tumble but this can sometimes be very rough and can even mean a fight to the death to establish their position in the pack and it is not unusual for the more developed to eat their killed siblings. Vixen's within the family unit who have not bred that year often help rear the cubs to give them the best possible chance.
In October/November time the braver of the siblings venture off to establish their own territory while others stay within the strength of the family unit. Many of these brave young foxes don't make it as they are hit by cars, die of starvation or cold. Over half the population of foxes die in their first year with 80% dying before they turn 3 years old. Often by December most of the offspring have dispersed before breeding season starts once again with the exception of a few vixen's that stay on to become nannys to the next generation.
Foxes tend to rest above ground during the day finding a sunny spot to snooze in tucked amongst foliage or the lucky ones amongst us who have them visiting gardens may spot one snoozing in the middle of the lawn, be proud that these beautiful mammals feel safe under your watch 🤗🦊