Three of the best books on foxes


IT is the time of year when the screeching mating cries of foxes can be heard during the night and the early hours, reminding us of how they co-exist in close proximity to humans. Here, we pick three books that delve into the fascinating world of the fox.  

Fox by Jim Crumley (Saraband, £10)

A slender volume at a smidge over 60 pages, yet this spellbinding book – part of Scottish nature writer Jim Crumley’s Encounters In The Wild series – packs in so much detail and beautiful imagery that you feel far from short-changed.

One memorable section finds Crumley on Ben Ledi in January. A bright and cold winter’s day. A face watching him from high among the frozen landscapes. “It was the colour of autumn and snow,” he writes. “Its eyes were smouldery gold.”

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Later, he stumbles across a different fox, sleeping on the mountainside. Crumley watches – almost within touching distance – as it slumbers atop a cushion of heather, snow falling lightly on its fur. A rare and magical encounter.

The Wild Life Of The Fox by John Lewis-Stempel (Doubleday, £9.99)

We’re big fans (and repeat readers) of The Wood by John Lewis-Stempel and this is another gem. The Wild Life Of The Fox chronicles a complicated relationship, one where the author professes to be mesmerised by its magnificence, yet loathes it for killing his chickens (Lewis-Stempel is a farmer).

The fox is an apex predator, described in the book as a “beautiful and clever killer”, one that can chill with its high-pitched scream or charm when young cubs tumble and play. A stark and honest account of a tricky co-existence between man and beast.

A fox in an Edinburgh allotment. Picture: Gordon Terris/The

Fun fact: The geography and ecology of a fox’s territory heavily influence its diet. Seaside foxes may subsist on crabs, fenland foxes on frogs.

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl (Puffin, £9.99)

Could this be considered the fox’s perspective? First published in 1970, Fantastic Mr Fox is a children’s tale of derring-do and ingenuity that has captured the imagination of generations.

Each night, Mr Fox stealthily steals livestock from the mean and dim-witted farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, to feed his family. Determined to catch him, the trio lay siege to Mr Fox’s den.

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This traps all the other underground animals – badgers, moles, rabbits and weasels – in their burrows too, and they begin to starve. Mr Fox hatches a cunning plan to tunnel into a storehouse to secure a feast and save the day. A cheering story about community and hope.


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