Hard Working Father

June is coming up with a holiday honoring fathers. There is one hard working father living at my place who will not be honored because he is a gray fox.

This poor male has a family to feed. His mate and five pups depend entirely on him for their food.

hard working father gray fox going off to hunt
The female fox is hungry again. The male gray fox is off to see what he can catch. These predators don’t live very long. Perhaps all the hard work wears them out.

The fox family has been living under one end of my barn. They tend to sleep in until mid morning. Then the male goes off to hunt.

The gray fox pups are now big enough to come out following him. They don’t come very far, only out in front of the barn to play in the grass for a few minutes.

These pups aren’t old enough to eat much meat yet. This takes some of the pressure off this hard working father as he is mostly feeding only himself and his mate who is feeding the pups milk.

gray fox pup
The male gray fox is off to hunt. This is the signal for the pups to go out to play. They mostly explore. A couple are starting to tussle. This is a young family. The pups are not very wary and stay out while being watched for several minutes.

I see the fox go out the gate and trot off down the road a short distance before going up on the hill. Once I saw him come back down carrying a ground squirrel. These rodents reproduce prodigiously as do the mice and voles. The foxes will also hunt moles.

Gray foxes are small predators. The male is about twice the size of my cats. This makes them easy prey for the local coyotes and bobcats.

Fox enemies stay away from my house and barn making it a safer place to raise those pups. Doe deer often keep their fawns near the yard for the same reason.

hard working father gray fox
The gray fox male stops to look back on its way down the road to go hunting. These small predators can climb trees, something red foxes can’t. The foxes are normally very shy, but are getting used to my comings and goings.

The fox did grab a couple of my chickens and I am not happy about it. But he seems to leave the chickens alone now as I am out in the area when they are out.

Many people would get out their guns and shoot this hard working father. It does take some adjustments to coexist. But we both live here and he may have the greater claim to belonging here. And the various gray foxes who have lived near the house for a time have earned my respect.

Deer, squirrels and other Ozark creatures are featured in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.