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Red Fox Pups Establishing Hierarchy

4-27-18 red fox kit3 IMG_7484When Red Fox pups are born, they weigh less than a stick of butter and have charcoal gray fur (with the characteristic white-tipped tail). Eventually eyes open, fur grows more dense and teeth begin to come in. For their first month the pups remain in their den, and then, cautiously at first, emerge into the great outdoors.

Around the time they are leaving the safety of their den the pups are engaged in another important process – that of establishing a strict dominance hierarchy. The largest member of the litter, male or female, usually becomes the alpha pup. This position allows it to steal food from its litter mates. Each pup steals food from litter mates below it in the hierarchy. Should food become scarce, the dominant pups get a larger portion of the food and have the best chance of surviving while smaller and more submissive pups may die. By the time the pups are spending enough time outside the den to be noticed by humans, the hierarchy has been established, and we are witness to the less aggressive, playful, puppy-like behavior we associate with fox pups.

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9 responses

  1. Char Delabar

    >

    May 7, 2018 at 9:04 am

  2. Sarah Gilson

    Stephen, Remember those pups on the Cliff Walk?

    On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 8:01 AM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “When Red Fox pups are born, they weigh less than a > stick of butter and have charcoal gray fur (with the characteristic > white-tipped tail). Eventually eyes open, fur grows more dense and teeth > begin to come in. For their first month the pups remain in thei” >

    May 7, 2018 at 9:19 am

  3. Dan Allen

    Thank you for such a detailed comment about one of my favorite animals. Natalie Davis

    May 7, 2018 at 9:20 am

  4. Alice Pratt

    Seen a Red Fox several times this year…I think I already wrote…one time with a Squirrel in it’s mouth for brunch.

    May 7, 2018 at 1:39 pm

  5. nangalland

    this is not so different from human behavior, when you consider the gap between wealth and poverty… we are after all, animals! – Nancy >

    May 7, 2018 at 6:09 pm

  6. Gosh, they’re cute!

    May 7, 2018 at 9:47 pm

  7. David Fedor-Cunningham

    Several years ago I helped raise three kits, we needed to separate them when they were very young due to how vigorously they tried to dominate one another. Favorite foods? Broccoli, crickets and chicken!

    May 8, 2018 at 7:56 am

    • Alice Pratt

      What an interesting endeavor. How did you not bond with them?

      May 8, 2018 at 3:55 pm

  8. Shirl Browell

    How cute! the exact opposite of the poor creature who died on my doorstep. Am afraid that it must have been a pup like this one who certainly lost the battle. Thanks though. Shirl

    May 8, 2018 at 5:15 pm

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