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Gray Foxes in my Garden

Updated on August 14, 2014

Gray foxes visiting my garden

Gray foxes are sly creatures I have only read about in books and seen on the wildlife channels. But never did I expect to see them camping out on my backyard deck for three whole months. In spite of their cunning and crafty reputation, which is often taken in a negative light, my encounter with gray foxes in my garden was an eye-opener and dispelled all of these stereotypical notions.They were not aggressive or threatening towards me and behaved just like domesticated pets - not the wily and tricky little creatures often portrayed in fables, stories, movies and video games.

Close encounter of the foxy kind - This one is a shy guy

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This gray fox appeared on my deck one afternoon in April of 2003. It would visit almost every afternoon and made itself at home on the backyard deck. Most of the time, the gray fox would just relax and nap in the afternoon sun..

The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is a medium-sized canid (member of the dog family) and resembles the red fox but is gray. The gray fox has a salt and pepper coloration on top with a white throat extending underneath. It is reddish-brown on its sides, chest and the back of its head. Its legs and feet are also reddish color. It has an elongated muzzle and ears pointed forward. Unlike the red fox, the gray fox has a black tipped tail while the red fox has a white tipped tail.

Mistook this one for a coyote - My wildlife friend

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I had my own preconceived notions of what a fox or a coyote should look like prior to this encounter. So I mistook this gray fox for a coyote, which is one of its worse enemies. It was only after several calls to the wildlife society and some researching on the internet did I realize that this was a gray fox and not a coyote. This one allowed me to take its picture at close range.

The gray fox can be distinguished from the coyote by its smaller size from 9-11 lbs. A coyote resembles a medium-sized dog with long slender legs and weighs between 15-25 lbs.

These foxes will never leave your home

Hansa Fox Plush, Gray
Hansa Fox Plush, Gray

This furry standing gray fox is begging to be hugged. Any animal lover will love stroking its life-like fur and keeping it as an indoor pet.

 
Michael Carr 508007A Fox, Large
Michael Carr 508007A Fox, Large

Let this realistic red fox guard your garden with its intense eyes and stunning colors. Extremely well-made of resin with a good weight to it to serve as a garden or door sentry.

 

Please do not disturb - It's siesta time!

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I was advised by the wildlife society not to make my yard a welcome place for the gray foxes. There were many reasons for discouraging their presence. Foxes carry rabies and there may be a danger of getting bitten. They will also build their dens under the deck and have babies. Their presence in my backyard will deprive my indoor cat from taking her weekly walks in the garden.

The gray fox is related to the domestic dog and has the ability to climb trees. It has strong hooked claws which allows it to scramble up trees to escape from predators or look for food sources. I caught this one clambering up the six-foot fence and descending slowly backwards just like a housecat.

One fox is not enough - And then there were two

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The lone gray fox visited for a month and then it brought along a mate. It seemed like it was checking out my place to make sure it was secure and safe for its companion. These two gray foxes seemed oblivious to the presence of humans. They ignored me as I watered the hanging plants along the trellis to the right of the bench they were resting on. These two visitors did not feel threatened or disturbed by my presence, but were a bit annoyed by the noise of my shoes on the deck as I walked back and forth to refill the watering can.

Gray foxes prefer rocky canyons and ridges, but can also be found in wooded areas, open desert and grasslands. Foxes make their dens in old hollow logs or trees, boulder piles, caves and mine shafts. These fall prey to coyotes, cougars,hawks,bobcats, and humans who kill them for their fur.

Checking out the accommodations - This bench will do.

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These two gray foxes by no means appeared to be nocturnal creatures. They were on the deck every 2 p.m., like clockwork, lazing around and basking in the sun.

The gray fox is primarily nocturnal and and prefer to live in wooded areas. It is an omnivore which means it eats a lot of different things such as rabbits, birds, rodents, insects, fruits and nuts. If it has more food than it can eat, the fox will bury it and mark the spot with its urine so that it can find it when it is hungry.

Shy fox retreats to the garden. - Had enough of the noise I am making

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After being roused from its restful sleep by the clatter of my garden clogs on the wooden deck, the gray fox reluctantly retreated to the garden. Ever so often it would stop and look to see if the intruder and noise-maker is gone.

Gray fox tracks show four toes and claws. Their tracks commonly run in straight lines, one print in front of the other.

Front and hind prints overlap each other and appear as one print. Only foxes and members of the cat family walk in this matter.

Fox running for cover in the garden.

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The gray fox retreated to the garden, hid behind the long row of bushes, scaled the 6-ft. fence and disappeared into the neighbor's yard. This seemed to be the same path it took to come into my backyard.

In Many cultures, the fox appears in folklore as a symbol of cunning and trickery or as a familiar animal possesed with magic powers. The word "fox" or "foxy" have become slang in Western societies to mean a female with sex appeal. The word "vixen", which is normally the common name for a female fox, is also used to describe an attractive woman--although, in the case of humans, "vixen" tends to imply that the woman in question has a few nasty qualities. - from Wikipedia

How can one not love this face?

My wildlife friend - how can one not love this face?
My wildlife friend - how can one not love this face?

I have grown accustomed to her face.

I have grown accustomed to her face.
I have grown accustomed to her face.

Elegant foxy lady - A picture worth a thousand words

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This photo of the gray fox was taken through the window from inside the house. It shows the overall salt and pepper coloration with hints of orange and a suggested stripe along the top of the back down to the end of the tail.

Gray foxes are monogamous and thought to mate for life. Most gray foxes breed and raise litters during their first year of life.

Did you know? - I bet you didn't.

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A young baby of a gray fox is called a 'cub, kit or pup'. The females are called 'vixen' and males 'reynard, todd or dog'. A gray fox group is called a 'leash or skulk'.

The word shenanigan or mischief is derived from the Irish expression sionnachuighim, meaning "I play the fox."

The gray fox is the only member of the dog family that can climb trees. It can make its way through the tree tops by jumping from branch to branch or shimmying down backwards like a cat.

Foxy wearables from Amazon

'Hat-imals' Gray Fox Plush Winter Hat
'Hat-imals' Gray Fox Plush Winter Hat

Kids will have a blast wearing this foxy winter hat to keep their heads warm.

 

Friendly gray foxes in Central Florida

Do not miss this amazing blog by Sandra L. Russell

Recommended Links

Do you know the differences between a gray fox and a coyote?

This 2003 Christmas ornament commemorates the year the foxes came to visit.

This 2003  Christmas ornament commemorates the year the foxes came to visit.
This 2003 Christmas ornament commemorates the year the foxes came to visit.
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Starstruck Foxes

This lens was nominated and bestowed a Purple Star Award. Thank you my Squidoo friends. I am truly glad you enjoyed this lens.

Books about Foxes from Amazon

Gray Fox (Picture Puffins)
Gray Fox (Picture Puffins)

Jonathan London and Robert Sauber capture the emotion and life of this landscape and the creatures who inhabit it with strokes of pen and brush.

 
In the Woods and on the Water with the Gray Fox
In the Woods and on the Water with the Gray Fox

This book is definitely a must read and "go-to" book for hunting and fishing. The real life stories are heartwarming and sometimes humorous with threads of life wisdom by which to live interwoven into each story.

 

I would love to hear from you. - Have you had similar encounters?

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    • Shoputopian profile image

      Karnel 5 years ago from Lower Mainland of BC

      Wow their beautiful, we have a pack of coyotes that hang out around our house...I'm always telling my cats to watch out their coming for you! Great lens, angel blessed!

    • Richard-H profile image

      Richard 6 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Only just a few weeks ago, I encountered a red fox on my trip back to the UK, but I believe the grey variety are now endangered. Enjoyed your pictures and story :)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      Wow, I would have loved this experience....2 gray foxes on your patio! I have only seen a fox once when I was in Europe, but never here. Thourougly enjoyed your story here.

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 6 years ago

      Envy you about this experience

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 6 years ago

      We had some living next door in an abandoned shed. They are beautiful creatures. They also managed to eat my hens.

    • Joyce Mann profile image

      Joyce T. Mann 6 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      Wow, what an amazing lens. A few summers ago, we had three red foxes camping out in an abandoned dog house. It was cute to see them scramble out first thing each morning as my husband walked down our drive to his car.

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      @ajtyne: After hanging out for 3 months on our backyard deck every afternoon, the two gray foxes were never seen again. Who knows why the two chose my yard. I am speculating that these two foxes lived under my deck (it's a giant fox hole) during that period of time. Right after that, I saw red foxes playing in our backyard deck and then never to be seen again.

    • ajtyne profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for writing this lovely lens. I think foxes are adorable. It looks like you live in a beautiful place! What happened to the foxes? Did they leave on their own? They never came back?

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Oh, this is brilliant. We only have red foxes here in the UK, which are common in urban areas as well as in the countryside. We have only ever seen one in our garden just one time (sadly I did not see it) and it is the reason why we keep our rabbits in very secure hutches and runs.

      Beautiful lens :)

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 6 years ago

      What a neat encounter with such a beautiful creature. The photos are great.

    • profile image

      Tarra99 6 years ago

      very cool! they look very crafty...but also almost pet like...very tame looking in the pics

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 6 years ago from Vancouver

      Love this lens! Learned to much about the Gray Fox!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      You are the fortunate one. I have had close contact with foxes at a nearby cemetery that I like to ride my bicycle through. They are incredibly curious and seemed to pursue me with the same curiosity I had for them. It is incredibly satisfying. Thanks for your sharing.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a beautiful blessing of foxes - and thank you so much for sharing them with us. We have grey foxes here, and I happened to see one shinny up a tree one day to avoid a dog - faster than any cat I've ever seen. Amazing. Blessed by an Angel

    • Snakesmom profile image

      Snakesmom 6 years ago

      That is crazy that these foxes come that close. What a great lens & I love all the pictures too. Nice job!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 6 years ago

      Forgot to add, lensrolled to a few of mine provided you don't mind?

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 6 years ago

      Fascinating and excellent lens right up my street. Worthy purple and congratulations.

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      Wow! This is another amazing wildlife lens. I love how those gray foxes seem right at home on your deck. :) Belated congrats on the purple star.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi Thank you for visiting my fox blog. Your fox photos are wonderful too.

      . I was very lucky that my fox clan stayed around for two litters and shared their beautiful lives with me.for a year and a half. ....

      Did you read why my gray fox came to me in the first place? My fox came to me asking for some help. She sat on a downed tree in my back yard for two days and on the second day I stood on my deck(also) and looked her square in the eye and said sweet fox just what do you want and what can I do for you? Our eyes met and then I saw her look down and I followed her gaze... Lo and behold there was something moving awkwardly in the grass below and upon closer observation I saw it waa a baby fox... with a jar stuck on his head! My heart sank but I was determined that this situation was going to have a happy ending. To make a long story short , I put the word out to the universe that help was needed and a man, who had no fear of foxes, came to my house and we were able to find the baby fox the next morning , catch him, remove the jar and release him back to his mother ....later that day I saw mother fox running across the yard with a bird in her mouth and I knew it was for the little fox I called affectionately Jarhead. From that day on Mother fox brought her whole litter to my back yard to grow up. How lucky I was.

      If you really want to see a great video watch the one I call The good mother or Last meal... of mother feeding her kits . I just smile thinking about how she shared such an intimate moment with me and how happy the foxes were that mom was giving them such a great treat. There were four kits, almost as big as her, pulling at mom and having so much fun....mother fox kept her footing and looking at me the whole time. oh gosh how I miss their company.

      http://www.micanopyfoxwatch.blogspot.com

    • NYtoSCimjustme profile image

      NYtoSCimjustme 6 years ago

      Hummingbirds roosting, foxes slumbering... I would love to hang out on your deck :) You are definitely sending out good vibes to the animal kingdom or they would not be so comfortable lounging and living in your backyard. Jealous I am! Wonderful lens - Thanks for sharing!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      I am returning today to leave my April Blessings on this animal lens! Yes, I selected animals for my April 1 neighborhood. Imagine that! LOL

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image

      JeremiahStanghini 6 years ago

      I have never seen foxes get so close to "civilization..." Or maybe I should have said that the other way around?

      With Love and Gratitude,

      Jeremiah

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image

      JeremiahStanghini 6 years ago

      I have never seen foxes get so close to "civilization..." Or maybe I should have said that the other way around?

      With Love and Gratitude,

      Jeremiah

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for revisiting the gray foxes, Tipi. I cannot believe that this could ever happen in my backyard. It seems like these two creatures were taking a vacation away from their natural habitat to visit me. I feel so fortunate. You are so kind to feature this in the coclorin glens. In a way, it would make the kids see the real color of gray foxes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I had to return to look at these very good photos once again, and I brought a blessing too. Lensrolled to my Back Yard Nature Coloring Pages. I'm going to go get this featured there too (I know its not a coloring lens, but I think more people would love to see it). I love this lens, its very awesome! {{SquidHugs}}

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Happy St Patrick's Day (and a blessing on this lens)!

      Wonderful photos and descriptions.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Happy St Patrick's Day (and a blessing on this lens)!

      Wonderful photos and descriptions.

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      @tvyps: tvyps, I do not raise chickens so the foxes came by for some other reason. I suspected they lived under my deck and used it as their den because the pair would be on the deck evey 2 pm sunning themselves. There may be a possibility that they were raised in captivity, became domesticated and were released.. Perhaps that was the reason I was able to water my hanging plants outside while they napped and they were not scared of my presence. After 3 months, the two disappeared. A little later, 2 red foxes showed up playing on the trellis, and were soon gone.

      Thanks for your visiting this lens.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Totally interesting. Foxes usually do not hang out where there is human scent, they run from it. This is why they are so elusive when they are hunted. Only 2 animals I know that are attracted to humans are the Polar Bear and Mountain Lion. Only time you usually see these animals near us are times of extreme drought and / or lack of food. Chance that someone raised them and then released them to captivity? Very interesting. Last question...were you raising chickens? Foxes love fresh eggs!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Okay, admitting that i'm a little envious here, what a wonderful gift to have such an experience. Yup, wild animals should not be encouraged to come close but when they do on their own it is so incredible. I got a kick out of them being disturbed by the sound of your garden clogs on your deck and was surprised you didn't take them off, they adjusted and knew it was you. Delightful

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      @mythphile: Greekgeek, thanks for the tip on the YouTube clip of two red foxes cavorting on the trampoline. It was hoot. The gray fox visitors were not as rambunctious and more laid back. I think they chose my yard because it is sort of secluded. Whatever the reason was, I have not seen them for a while now. Your early bird fox in PA seemed to have a hidden agenda. I really appreciate your visit.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      It has been proved that the fox has a gene that allows for them to be domesticated, per the NatGeo mag.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 6 years ago from California

      What utterly fantastic photos! I used to have a "5 am fox" that would trot through the woods past my house when I lived in PA -- she always appeared to be late for an appointment -- but never at this close range.

      It's hard to discourage wildlife from making itself at home in your yard when it's so beautiful, isn't it?

      Tip: Search youtube for "fox trampoline" -- apparently you're not the only one with vulpine visitors.

      I also enjoyed learning the etymology of "shenanigan"!

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 6 years ago

      WOW! I would love if I saw any kind of Fox. I like your lens. Foxes and Horses are my fave. Animals. Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 6 years ago

      How interesting that they would make themselves at home on your deck. I have seen a fox or two but only fleeting glimpses. When we lived in the mountains I once saw a red fox trotting down the street in front of our house. Interesting creatures.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 6 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congrats on your Purple Star. I really enjoyed your lens on these beautiful foxes. They look extremely healthy and quite happy on your deck.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A pack (?) of foxes lived near where I worked in Colorado. So pretty! Nice photos, Virginia!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This is so interesting. I believe foxes should be re-tagged as "smart" instead of "sly." They certainly are beautiful animals and I really enjoyed reading about them. Great lens!

    • PianoGeek LM profile image

      PianoGeek LM 6 years ago

      Wonderful photos and thanks for "taking me to your garden".

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 6 years ago from Idaho

      Incredible photos, I would love to see this pair wander into our yard!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      Wonderful pictures and story! We have a fox living in our neighborhood who is much like what you describe, although he is reddish. I have seen him on my deck a few times too. Not disturbed by humans at all.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      Oh, I am soooooooo envious! I love these beauties! My bff, Holley, send this article link to me. She said I would love this article and she was definitely right! I do love them and you got some really awesome photos!

    • profile image

      editionh 6 years ago

      Hi , your garden seems to be full of adventures, very cool. Grey foxes are something different than our neighbours fat cat. :)

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 6 years ago

      Wow! You are very lucky to have gotten that close to these beautiful creatures. We mostly see the red ones here and they are not at all the ones you'd want hanging around. She certainly has a beautiful face and this is a very informative lens. Thank you!

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow! What a privilege! A great lens about some beautiful visitors. Blessed today :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      What a fascinating glimpse into the life of a fox. Could you lend me one to clear out my pesky chipmunks for the summer?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      My family enjoyed an amazing spring watching a grey fox family. Dad, Mom and their 6 kits, in our suburban cul-de-sac. The babies were born under a neighbors deck, then at about 8 weeks old, spent time on our deck and yard, mainly with dad. They became accustomed to proximity with humans and my 2 cats! I took a lot of pictures and video, as over time, they ventured out from under the deck on afternoons. Then a few months, they were gone, probably to the large natural preserved park close to our neighborhood.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      What wonderful photos and so close up! We have seen a fox (red) in Memphis, TN. It was running, and we were in a car, so it was a quick glance and then it was over.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Wonderful to see such lovely wild creatures up close. I'd love to have a garden that has all the enchanting visitors that you get to yours! ~*~* Angel Blessed *~*~

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Gray foxes are beautiful animals as I have experienced. I fear that these two foxes left their habitat in the preserve because they are not well. They have not returned for a few years now. My next-door neighbor found onethat drowned in his koi pond. It may well be that it was looking for food.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yes, we have a young female grey fox sometimes hanging out on our backyard deck and laying on the neighbor's roof. She's very curious and beautiful. My large black male cat is very interesed in her, trying to follow around. I feel for her... like she's lost. A huge natural park is near us. I wonder if she came from there and why shehere in our neighborhood. I hope she is finding the food she needs to survive. I have taken pictures of her.

    • profile image

      Environbee 7 years ago

      I am amazed at how lovely they are, beautiful coloured coats, quite blue. I love your lenses, you keep yourself busy with many creative pastimes. I do not know where you live but it's beautiful.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Very nice page and portrait of your foxy friends.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great lens ! A red fox crossed my path once in a wooded area - I was panicked for a moment as I also thought it would be aggressive. It wasn't. Thanks for sharing your amazing encounter! 5 Stars!

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I am truly surprised that the gray foxes used my backyard deck as a sanctuary. It was the first time I have ever seen gray foxes in my life. They are truly beautiful creatures and belong in the woodlands and not in my backyard. I thought perhaps that these two foxes were not well and sought refuge in my yard for 3 months. They have not shown up for a few years now.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      You sure have quite the wildlife refuge. I hope you got rid of the foxes.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh those grey foxes are so beautiful! I would have a hard time discouraging them from being in my yard since they look so cute. Thanks for the wonderful photos.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      Another great lens. I really enjoyed the photographs of and information about the foxes. We have both the red and the gray fox in our habitat in southeastern Louisiana. Sadly, the only gray fox I have seen was killed by a car on the highway in front of our house.

    • splendidbaker lm profile image

      splendidbaker lm 7 years ago

      What an awesome lens! Love the pics - just like having a zoo in your backyard. Very informational - 5 stars!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Lovely photos of the foxes. What a treat to see wildlife this close.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      Hello from a Squidoo Greeter! what a fun lens! I just went to a Red Fox lens and commented on the fox that live in my backwoods, that I fear my cat being a meal...now I see that maybe the coyote in my yard might be a grey fox...but am not sure of that...nicely done lens...5*

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      How lovely for you to have them so close. I see fox regularly on my walks but never at such a close and personal viewing. Yes, I imagine they could be a pest but since we live on a farm with plenty of coons and possums causing troubles a fox would be a welcome relief. :)

      What fun. Well done! 5*