We recently went to Ennis, Montana, about 70 miles northwest of Yellowstone, for a couple of days. We haven’t been there for a number of years and I had forgotten what a nice town it is. I think there are more osprey nests in the Ennis area than any place else in Montana. (More about them in a day or so.)
I love red foxes and have been very lucky to find several fox dens in the last couple of years. I am certainly not a fox expert but the dens we have watched in the past didn’t last long. They moved within a month of us finding them. But there is a fox den just outside of Ennis where the foxes have been since April. The babies are about four months old now and very close to full grown. From what I have read about foxes these guys should be out hunting, or at least following Mom around and learning. But they aren’t. They sleep in their den most of the day and when Mom comes in with dinner they make a run for her. And boy can these guys run.
We watched one run to Mom and get a ground squirrel. It brought it back to the den and practically swallowed it whole before its two siblings could get any. It had two scraps left over which it carefully buried in two separate places, and then went down into one of the two den holes. Immediately another baby came out, went straight to one of the buried scraps, dug it up and ate it. It then went to the second scrap and did the same. I don’t know if this was some kind of game the two foxes played or what. Surely the first fox had to know what the second one was doing.
Mom finally came into the den area and sat down for a couple of minutes.
Two of the babies crawled all around her wanting attention. She nuzzled them a little and they seemed thrilled. She then left as quickly as she had come in and the babies started playing. In the photo below you can see the lower fox is watching us and the other one is in the process of pouncing on the first foxes tail, just like it was a mouse in the snow. The pouncing fox pounced on the other foxes tail three or four times. The one that got pounced on didn’t seem to care at all. It seemed to have an “I am used to this maniac” sort of attitude.