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Red Foxes Preparing Dens

2-25-14  red fox den 013Red Foxes will be begin giving birth in about a month, so the time for preparing their den has arrived. While it’s never very hard to see a fox den (due to the pile of dirt at its main entrance), they are most obvious now, when the dirt removed by the foxes is conspicuous against the white snow. Red Foxes seldom dig their own den. Rather, they take over a woodchuck’s abandoned burrow, or, in some cases, forcibly drive the woodchuck out (and sometimes devour it, as well). They den in woodlands as well as fields, usually on a sandy knoll where they can observe the surrounding territory, and where their den will be well drained. Most dens have one or two main entrances. The tunnel usually slants downward to about four feet beneath the surface and then extends laterally for 20 to 30 feet and resurfaces. An enlarged chamber along the main tunnel serves as a maternity den.

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5 responses

  1. Connie Snyder

    Always so interesting and amazing! But, once 6-8 feet “in”, how does the fox remove all that dirt?

    February 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    • Good question! I believe that the majority of the digging a fox does is to enlarge the entrance. After the first three feet or so, I believe they use the woodchuck burrow as is. Now the question is…how do woodchucks remove all that dirt? Their tunnels can be over 60′ long…

      February 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm

  2. I’ll have to look for den sites on my walks. I’ve see plenty of tracks around.

    February 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm

  3. We came across several of these while out snowshoeing this past weekend. One of the openings had fresh nibbles on saplings and branches all around it (along with dirty tracks). Maybe that was from an actual woodchuck, out and about in the warmer temps we had?

    February 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    • Exactly, Susan. Male woodchucks leave their dens this time of year to search for and mate with females. Then both go back to sleep for a few weeks!

      February 26, 2014 at 4:35 pm

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