Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Story of the Fox Kits

In late March, a local farmer decided to take down an outbuilding on his farm with a skid loader. It was a small building and only took one good push to knock it down. As the dust settled, he noticed something that looked out of place. He heard something. He ventured closer...and saw five little fox kits in a small nest, just beneath where the outbuilding's floor boards had been. The skid loader wheels had passed right next to their den!


The kind farmer gathered up the kits and put them in the bed of his truck, then called us at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab for help. As a general rule when babies are found, we ask the public to put them back and leave for a while to give the mother a chance to return for her young. The presence of people generally spooks adult animals, and the mother of  most any species will hide and wait for a human to leave before approaching her young. Our farmer carefully replaced the kits, then piled soft dirt around the den so if the mother did return but not move the kits, he would at least see her tracks and know she was nearby. After a night and a day, the mother had still not returned, and the farmer called us back.

One of our veteran volunteers, Treasurer, and now Executive Director, Laura Stastny, drove two hours to take the kits into care. Upon a thorough inspection it was determined that our babies were five females, just a few weeks old, and just beginning to open their eyes.

 
Laura started them on bottles right away. They have done exceedingly well and are now eating formula and soft foods out of dishes.  


As growing red fox kits do, they are establishing a hierarchy amongst themselves by rough-housing, tumbling, and play-fighting. Once established, a "leader" kit in the wild would get to eat first (due to limited food supply) and push away her siblings. Since Laura is rearing them instead, there will always be plenty of food and so the kits will share.  



In two weeks, these babies will go into a large outdoor enclosure to begin "wilding them out"-- acclimating them to weather changes, allowing them to catch their own small live prey within the enclosure, and letting their natural wariness of humans to grow. Fear of humans is an essential key to any wild animal's survival; we don't want them wandering too near people or cars where they can be hurt or killed. 

The kits will stay in their enclosure to wild out until July, at which time we'll release them (with permission, of course) onto an appropriately-sized tract of land. Hopefully they will be able to make their own lives, and live a long time, after that point! 

If you'd like to see more videos of these little foxes, along with other animals we've taken into care, please visit and subscribe to the Nebraska Wildlife YouTube page.

And if you'd like to help support us in our efforts to save beautiful native wild creatures like these, please donate! Our 50 States for Great Plains Wildlife Fundraiser is running right now, and the animals benefit from every single dollar from generous people like you! 



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