As lockdown goes on nature is fighting back in the city. Foxes, badgers, and very, very big mice, bats, a woodpecker and an owl all make appearances on my runs along the walkways, waterside, graveyards and old railway lines. It’s demoralising being overtaken by a badger. Especially when you collapse back at your front door and it’s beaten you to it.
Well good luck moving into my garden – it’s getting crowded out there. Along with the cats and dogs, there are more foxes on our back green than members of the acting dynasty in a BBC box set. And with the dearth of people around to chat to, I’m starting to understand why that boy in my class used to keep a ferret in his parka (that’s not a euphemism).
So this week finds me breaking my rule of not interfering with nature and giving the very cheeky fox who sits looking expectantly at my kitchen window a few of Biggie Smalls’ Dreamies treats. The Notorious B.I.G. will never know, sound asleep on my bed, making sure there are no mice in the duvet.
I chuck them on the grass and the fox slopes over and gives me a big cheesy grin. So much for sly. This fox has tasted Dreamies before, judging by the belly on her, or him, or they, as they crunch away.
“Wonder if it’s male or female,” I say to Youngest. Sorry to be gender binary, but I’m wondering if there might be cubs in spring.
“Dunno. Does this mean we can get a dog?”
“Cos I’m thinking we should go some for something non-aspirational, like our family.”
I consult Google on fox gender: ‘While you should never touch or interact with a wild fox, you can determine the sex of pet foxes by gently laying them on their back and observing their genitals.’
Oops, I’ve already interacted, but there’s no way I’m laying this fox on its back and inspecting anything. However, the word ‘pet’ jumps out. Just as Biggie does the same in his fluffy puffa jacket, throws a hissy fit, there’s a flurry of ginger, and the fox has fled.
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