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Hide & Seek: Voles & Foxes

1-9-14  hide and seek-fox & vole IMG_2735Unlike wolves, which hunt in packs and often take down prey larger than themselves, red foxes are solitary hunters and as a result often catch prey much smaller than themselves, such as mice and voles. During the winter, mice and voles become more active during daylight hours because much of their time is spent under the snow, where they remain hidden from view. Consequently, in winter you’re more likely to see a fox hunting during the day than in the summer. Whenever it’s hunting, night or day, a fox depends heavily on its acute sense of hearing. It is most sensitive to lower noises such as the rustling and gnawing sounds that small animals make as they move through vegetation or feed on seeds, buds and twigs. Foxes can locate these sounds several feet away, to within inches of their true location, under three feet of snow. Recent research suggests that they may also use the magnetic field to help them locate prey. (photo: red fox & meadow vole tracks)

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6 responses

  1. Here’s a link to the video with amazing footage of a red fox hunting rodents through deep snow, with comments about the fox’s use of magnetic field:

    January 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    • It really is an amazing video, isn’t it? Thank you for mentioning it!

      January 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm

  2. Great pic. Here is a link to an excellent video that goes into more detail about the magnetic field, as well as has some incredible footage of a fox leaping through the air.

    January 9, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    • Thank you! That’s a truly remarkable video!

      January 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm

  3. Last winter, my younger cat demonstrated this technique for me. There was a mouse in the insulation under the floor (we live in a converted barn, where the insulation is full of holes). She carefully pinpointed the mouse’s location, reared up on her hind feet, and tried to “punch” through the wooden floor with her forepaws. It was pretty amazing, especially as it’s pure instinct–she’s never been an outdoor cat! (She tried it a few more times and then gave up.)

    January 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    • I can picture that perfectly thanks to your description, Kellyann!

      January 9, 2014 at 9:06 pm

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