How do fox cubs survive?Fox cubs are born in the spring and there are usually four to five cubs in each litter.
Here's a year in the life of a fox:
- Winter - foxes start to establish and defend their territories, ready for the mating season in January. This is often when they're most vocal and people report hearing them screaming.
- Spring - fox cubs are born and start to emerge from their den.
- Summer - the cubs will grow and become independent, while the adults leave the den and start to moult. It can take several months for their new coats to completely grow back.
- Autumn - now the cubs are fully grown they'll leave their family group to find territories of their own.
Fox cub developmentFox cubs are born blind and deaf, weighing about 100g and their fur is dark grey. This changes to a dark brown in the first two weeks as their ears and blue eyes open.
At one-month-old, their red fur starts to come through on their face and their eyes change colour to amber. As they start to take their first steps outside of the den their muzzle turns white.
By six to eight weeks their dark fur fades to red and are weaned from their mother. They're starting to become independent and spending time exploring outside the den.
Rescuing a fox cubIf you find a baby fox, it might not have been abandoned. In the spring, it's normal to see month-old cubs developing their survival skills above ground during the day. Their parents are usually nearby, watching. Parent foxes are unlikely to approach the cubs if people are around. Vixens will move their litter one by one if they feel the den has been disturbed and so you may come across cubs then.
Is the fox cub in danger?Baby foxes are often taken to wildlife centres by people who want to help, but this isn't always what's best for them. Reuniting them with their mother is the best chance of survival in the wild.
- If the cub is in immediate danger (on a road or somewhere exposed) move them to a safe, sheltered spot nearby, handling them as little as possible. Be aware of any traffic, and don’t put yourself at risk.
- Make sure to wear sturdy gloves as even young cubs can have a painful bite, and keep any other pets well away from them.
- If its eyes are open - parents are probably nearby so just check again in 24 and 48 hours, and provide supplementary food/water if concerned
- If its eyes are shut - the cub is dependent on their mother and too young to be above ground. Contact us or a local rehabilitator for more advice but don't confine it unless told to, as it might be possible for an expert to reunite it with mum.
Never try to rear a cub yourselfFox cubs need expert care and the company of other fox cubs. Foxes that grow up around humans and become used to them won't survive well in the wild. It's usually better for cubs to be left in the wild and given supplementary food and water than to be brought into captivity. Their average stay in a wildlife centre is five to six months, which is a long time in a young fox's life.
If you've been asked to take a fox cub to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator, record the exact location you rescued the cub from in case they can be returned.
If you disturb a fox litter and the mother runs away, move away from the cubs and monitor them from a distance. Their mother should return when she feels safe and will move her cubs to another den.
One of Britain's most popular mammals, foxes are a common sight in both countryside and urban areas.
Found an injured fox
Foxes are one of the most common mammals we treat at our wildlife centres. If you find a sick or injured fox, then don't try to handle it yourself - keep a safe distance and monitor.