Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mating Season Mystery

It was a red fox's tail. Just the tail. In the road.

I know December is fox mating season, so its attacker might have been another fox. They defend their territories, but aren't known to kill or maim each other. Chasing the intruder from the territory is enough.

Foxes have few wild predators: bobcats, bears, golden eagles. Foxes can outrun dogs, as every British hunting party knows. People do say bobcats live here, but I haven't seen proof. Human fox killers, who don't eat them, always want the tail as a trophy. They wouldn't remove it and leave it. Looked around for traces of a car killing. None. So it's a tail without a story.

The dime in the photo lets you see its length -- about 11 inches. That's short for a fox tail so it might have been a young one that got into trouble because it didn't know better. Maybe it sacrificed its tail.

A fox uses its tail for warmth (curling it around and burying its nose in it to sleep) and for balance and to communicate (the way a dog's tail does). Somewhere a red fox around here is minus its tail. It must hurt a lot.

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