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Finding Earths

If foxes are seen fairly regularly in an area and leave many droppings around, then this most certainly should be a fixed territory. Once a fox territory is found, the breeding earths will be fairly easy to find, providing you look for them in late April/early May. This is also the best time to watch at breeding earths.

However there are specific types of habitat to search around where earths are likely to be. Some are on completely open ground, others in very dense cover such as thick hedgerow and bramble patches. They can also be on large banks or hillsides, where the ground is sloping, dry, well drained and easily dug. A common site for earths is where the fringes of woodland and forest meet the fields and meadows because this gives the fox earth quite a bit of cover. I have often found earths by walking along the edges of a wood in April and May and have stumbled upon young cubs playing or wandering around outside their earth.

Old rabbit warrens and badger setts are often taken over by vixens to rear their cubs. Watching cubs can sometimes be frustrating if they are moved from one earth to another in the territory. This can happen quite often, either through disturbance or simply the fact that they are moved to a more suitable, dryer earth as they outgrow the old one. Sometimes they can be relocated not too far away and other times they can be extremely difficult or impossible to find again.

An occupied earth, whether found in winter, spring or summer usually has a well worn trail to and from it, the odd scat outside or near it and possibly, but not always, the odd bit of bone or feather. There is usually the unmistakable scent of fox from the musky-sweet smell of fox urine around the earth. The hole itself may be fairly large, having an arched, tunnel-shaped appearance to the entrance rather than the round entrance of the badger sett or rabbit hole. Other times the entrance may be surprisingly and deceptively small, only about 30cm in diameter.

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