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See Red Foxes? Leave 'Em Alone

Tufts' wildlife clinic director explains why you're seeing more of the cute critters around Shrewsbury and beyond.

A few weeks ago a resident on Hancock Street contacted Animal Control Officer Leona Pease about a fox that apparently taken to living under her shed. She saw the fox every day, and the fox would run from the backyard under the shed when she knew the owner was looking.

Pease responded to the woman, saying "I am guessing that the fox may have a litter under your shed. This means that you will have the wonderful opportunity to watch baby foxes playing around the den. The fox is acting appropriately running back into the den when you open your door. She should not be any kind of a threat to you or your family. It is important that any children that may be involved understand that these are wild animals that we watch from the house and not a friend like the fox on Dora the Explorer."

Have you spotted foxes around town?

Several Shrewsbury residents and others from surrounding towns have reported sightings of red foxes and their young offspring, known as "kits." And that's not unusual, says the director of the wildlife clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

"Red foxes are increasing in population all over, including suburban areas," said Flo Tseng, director of the wildlife clinic. "Mating season is usually early spring, and females are pregnant for 50-51 days before giving birth. So, you're likely to see youngsters out there."

Pease added that Shrewsbury gets its share of calls concerning foxes.

"There usually is no great concern if a fox is out during the day," said Pease.  "We get concerned when a fox is walking in circles, falling down, staggering like it is drunk. Also, a concern is if the fox or any wild animal is acting aggressive.  

The foxes, she added, have had their kits (babies) in rock piles, under sheds, in holes in back yards.  

"I encourage people to be tolerant and to enjoy watching the babies grow up," she said.  

Grace Elizabeth Quist took photos of these kits in Grafton on Barbara Jean Street.

"Kits are youngsters, and they're not as smart about being around people," Tseng said. "The main thing to do is just leave them alone."

Usually, the kits' mother should be nearby.

Common sense should dictate behavior around these wild animals, just as it would other wildlife, Tseng said. Though a fox isn't as likely to have rabies as, say, a raccoon, they should still be avoided. 

They're also unlikely to go after small domestic pets: though they will defend themselves if provoked by another animal, Tseng noted.

Anyone who comes across a sick fox should call Animal Control.

Madaline Danzilio-Guerra June 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Ok. Everyone has been wondering who has the Mama fox and her babies living under her shed on Hancock St. Its Me !! They are still under there and I have had no problem with them. But, I do get the pleasure of watching her and the babies in the early morning and they have no problem when I take pictures :)

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