Red Fox Family Dynamics by Brittany Crossman
Spring isn’t just a great time to photograph foxes because they have kits, but because its also a great time to make observations about family dynamics. During other seasons, these observations are difficult to make since foxes are typically solitary animals, hunting and feeding on their own. Fox families are interesting for many reasons, their roles from fox to fox can defer sometimes drastically. Red foxes sometimes invite a non-breeding female (usually one of their kits from the previous year) to help raise their new litter.
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Two of the four dens I have been following this year have had a “helper fox”. The role of this non-breeding vixen is to protect, feed, groom and play with the kits. One den in particular, the helper seems to play a bigger role in the lives of the kits than their father (dog). I have yet to see the male bring back food or even play with his kits. However, he does stay out in the field on guard. The helper fox frequently brings back meals, plays, and grooms this den of 5. Some speculate that the role of being a helper provides good practice for when that vixen has kits of her own in the future.