Wow! We have had some extremely hot days lately. As is typical for this time of year, snake and wildlife calls have slowed down due to the heat.
This week let's talk about Maryland's red fox. I have had the excitement for the past few months of watching a family of foxes that have made a den in the woods near my house. It has been a great enjoyment.
Snakes, as you know, are my true passion but there is something about the fox that keeps me mystified. Perhaps it's their gorgeous color or the way they are devoted to their young. Maryland's red fox is a vital resource.
The red fox weighs up to 14 pounds. It has a sharply pointed nose, very erect ears and a gorgeous bushy tail with a white tip. Sometimes colors can be black to blonde, but mainly they are red. They are active both day and night and do not hibernate like other native Maryland mammals.
They hunt year-round. The red fox is omnivorous, which means they eat plants and animals, and its diet consists of insects, birds, rabbits, voles, nuts, berries and, yes, snakes. The snake part I did not want to mention but this can be a delicacy for a fox and it all connects to balance out nature.
The red fox inhabits all of Maryland; we also have a gray fox native to Maryland, which can weigh up to 12 pounds with a black tipped tail. This is the only other fox native to Maryland. Red foxes make a maternity den for their young, lining it with grass and leaves. It has two escape holes and has to be in a location where they can see all around.
The can have up to 10 pups. The mother will regurgitate meat she has eaten earlier to feed her pups. She will also bring back live food so her young can learn how to kill for their future survival. Pups leave the den on their own usually when they are about 7 months old. Parents will then separate.
Even with all the suburban building sprawl around us the red fox has adapted extremely well.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Any mammal native to Maryland can carry rabies. Foxes and skunks make up a small percentage compared to the raccoon who makes up a very large percentage. Although SAD rabies is very fatal to the animal and they usually die within two weeks from the disease. It is very important not to approach, feed or disturb a wild animal in anyway. If you are bitten go to hospital quickly and also contact your local health department. If you see a wild animal in distress or appears sick do not bother the animal, call your local animal control or department of natural resources. These people are experts in there line of work and can help.
Please enjoy all the wildlife around us, but stay a distance and respect their habitat. As always I welcome any comments or questions you may have and if you have a suggestion for a future column please post it.
I dedicate this article to my mom, Laraine, who suffered a severe fall and is recovering well. I love you and I know how much you and dad enjoy the red fox.
Tammy McCormack is a professional snake trapper. She writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.