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.