Red Foxes of Cape Breton

Red foxes are a common sight around Cape Breton Island, especially on the Cabot Trail. It is the golden hours of the morning and evening that they are easiest to spot, though it is not uncommon to see them trotting along at all hours of the day. Usually my experiences with the foxes in my area are very friendly and lengthy, which is due to them being fed generously. It is good to know that similar behavior is exhibited by foxes that suffer from mange; parasitic mites that cause loss of fur and lesions. It might be difficult to know the difference between a friendly fox and a sick fox, so it is best to keep your distance and not feed any wild animal.

The red fox generally lives on the edges of wooded areas, prairies and farmlands and only use dens when they are breeding. These dens are usually dug in sand and soil and are closely watched. Usually there is more than one entrance to the den in case of danger. In Cape Breton many dens are made underneath old cabins or seasonal homes.

 Mama fox watching as I pass by at sunrise. Her pups are behind her underneath an old cabin.

Mama fox watching as I pass by at sunrise. Her pups are behind her underneath an old cabin.

Even though Red foxes are nocturnal, it is not unusual for them to be spotted during the day. They also have exceptional sight, smell and hearing abilities which makes them excellent hunters. Primarily preying on small animals such as voles, mice, lemmings, hares and rabbits, foxes have the unique ability to hear low frequency sounds which help them locate a potential meal underground. Foxes also eat plants, fruits and berries. Here is a great article with newly discovered information about Arctic foxes in Manitoba and how they enhance their landscape by increasing the concentration of nutrients near their dens. 

 Fox in Boularderie Island, Cape Breton at sundown

Fox in Boularderie Island, Cape Breton at sundown

I took many of these photos during chance encounters on the road in the more rural parts of Cape Breton Island. You may notice the patchy spring coat of a few of these photos; foxes begin molting in April. There can be variation in color to the Red foxes coat, from a dark yellow to  dark orange, and you may see their pups to be black or brown. Typically, the red in their coats does not appear until they are 2-3 months old. Enjoy!

fox
 A fox yawning in North River, Cape Breton

A fox yawning in North River, Cape Breton