We are seeing Red Fox kits above ground as they emerge from their den for the first time since birth, but much has transpired since they were born a month or so ago. Like other canids, including coyotes and wolves, their natal coat of fur was charcoal brown. A new, second, coat of sandy-colored hair (that matches the sandy soil of the den site) has grown in, to be replaced again within the next two months by a brilliant red coat. The weaning process, which won’t be completed for some time, has begun by the time the kits venture above ground. Their eyes have opened (at 10-12 days), their first set of teeth has come in and they have established hierarchy among themselves. Down in the den during the past month vicious fighting has taken place among the kits in order to determine which kit was “top dog,” or the alpha (usually the largest kit) and gets the lion’s share of the food delivered by the parents.
By the time we see Red Fox kits, much has happened in their young lives. They’ve gained sight, a new coat, a set of teeth, the introduction of solid food, and most importantly, hierarchy has been established. Peace now reigns and we get to enjoy the kits’ playful antics as they are introduced to the world above ground.
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After spending their first five weeks under the ground, young red foxes get big and brave enough to come out and see the world for the first time. The gray coat which they have had since birth will soon be replaced by a sandy-colored coat. This second coat matches the sandy soil outside of the den and thus helps camouflage them. A third reddish coat, the adult coat and one for which they are named, grows in when they are about three months old. (Note white hind foot on this wild red fox kit.)