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The Fox (Sionnach/ Madra Rua) --: The fox is one of the most common mammals in Ireland. The fox is found in most types of country, from farmland to woodland, from sand dunes and sea cliffs to mountaintops. Foxes swim well and can climb trees. The fox is a meat eater. Its main food is usually rabbits, young hares, rats and small birds. It also eats mice, insects and fruit. The fox is a member of the dog family, with a brownish red coat and a bushy tail tipped with white. Did you know that the fox’s tail is called a brush? The male fox is called a dog fox. A female is called a vixen and a baby is called a cub. Cubs are born during late February to the end of March. A litter of four or five is usual. The fox is one of the cleverest animals in the world. Foxes are also found in city suburbs, where it can be seen after dawn in early summer. The fox, although mainly nocturnal (which means he hunts at night), may sometimes be seen during the day. The fox usually trots but it can run for long distances when chased, with the tail straight out behind. Foxes swim well and can climb trees. Fox cubs make different types of screams but the older foxes are usually silent except in the breeding season, when they let out a high pitched, sharp bark or scream.

The fox is a mammal; most mammals live in the country. Some like foxes and hedgehogs are often seen on the outskirts of towns. Foxes are shy and frightened of people and that is why they are seen more at dawn and at dusk, when the leave there homes in search of food. Farmers who have chickens hate them, as they love to attack chicken pens. Roald Dahl wrote a lovely book about this problem called “Mr. Fox”. The fox also caused a lot of damage to game birds during the nesting season. Foxes are very difficult to watch,as they often travel further and change their homes more often. The fox is a beautiful animal and generally lives in wooded areas in the country.

In Ireland the mating season is in January or February and the young are born in late February or March. A litter of four or five is most common and is rarely more than seven. The cubs differ from the adults in having chocolate brown coats when born, and short muzzles. The young usually emerge into the open after about four weeks. The home of a fox is called an earth. They sometimes use the old home of a badger. They are very untidy animals, as they scatter food and old bones all around the entrance to their home. This mess as well as a very strong smell is a sure sign that foxes are about. The best time to see foxes is in May and June when the cubs are young and playful. The cubs are usually born in March or April. The cubs come out from the earth, when they are a few weeks old to play and have a run around. This happens usually in the evening time. If anyone or if  another animal goes near the home, the mother will move her cubs somewhere else. 

The mother fox is called a vixen and she cares for her cubs without the help of the male or dog fox. The male provides food for the mother fox and her cubs. Just after the cubs are born is a very busy time for the male, as he has to go off and get food for all his family. He sometimes might have to travel a long distance before he gets anything. Food is often buried in the ground to be collected at a later stage.A fox is not a fussy eater. He wil eat anything he can get his hands on, sorry paws on.You willoften see him upending dustbins in towns in search of food. In the countryside he willeat young rabbits, rats, mice, and even young birds. Foxes are widespread and found all over Ireland. The fox is said to be very clever. If he is being chased by a pack of dogs he can often loose them by playing all sorts of tricks on them, like doubling back on his trail or hiding in strange places. Aesop wrote  a very good story about the "fox and the Crow", where the fox used his brain to get a piece of cheese from a crow who was up in a tree. I like foxes.

Aaron Mahoney