In the vicinity of the Kronotskii-Bogachёvskoy tundra studies of the formation of social behavior of fox cubs born this year have been completed. Young animals have learned to hunt and well orientate.
Second field season of observing foxes in Kronotsky reserve was conducted by staff of A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution. In 2013, they examined the relationship of red coat foxes with other animals, watched how their diet was changing with age, how their hunting skills improved. This summer, the scientists analyzed the behavior of three fox families. One of the purposes of the research was to see how social behavior of foxes forms in different life situations. For example, in the vicinity of the cordon Aerodrome, where the mother and daughter raise their cubs together, older puppies “took patronage” over the younger ones.
“The fox cubs of Louise the fox were born in late May, her mother Alice’s – in early June. Females have combined their broods and started to care for the cubs together. Puppies develop quickly, so the older, despite the small difference in age, warn the younger of the danger, and play with them,» – said the researcher of A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution Anna Yachmennikova.
According to experts each fox has its own character and individual appearance. Researchers give names to those animals that differ markedly from their relatives,. All foxes are certainly pretty, but for a especially cute face and attachment to her mother, one of the little foxes, who had been born this year, got a name Mommy’s daughter. A young fox who had inherited rather large ears from her mother was named Ear-flaps (Ushanka).
During the three months of observation all cubs have really grown and became almost equal of their parents’ size. They have already acquired the skills necessary for survival: they hunt voles, small birds and dragonflies, and hide their prey. Young foxes become familiar with new territory and go far away from the hole, where they were born. In February-March, the animals will reach sexual maturity and will be able to create their own offspring. The following year, surveillance will continue. Scientists plan to study the behavior of new litters, and to compare these data with the results of studies conducted in the past and the current field season. In the coming weeks, members of Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences will study thousands of camera traps photos, which depicted the first months of life of the Kronotskoye cubs.
Photo: Anna Yachmennikova