WASHINGTON BORO, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s the busiest time of the year for Raven Ridge Wildlife Center — baby season.
“From foxes to baby owls, baby skunks, you name it, it’s here,” said Tracie Young, rehabilitator for the center.
But this year, the folks at Raven Ridge got a surprise when someone brought them a pair of fox kits.
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“When I opened up the box,” said Young, “I was like, ‘These are gray foxes,’ and we have never had gray foxes before. Over the years, we’ve always gotten red foxes.”
The box of fox came a long way. “(The rescuer) called us from Lackawanna County, and she is a supporter of ours and a follower of Raven Ridge, and she wanted to bring these foxes to us. And she did — it was a three-hour drive one way for her,” said Young.
“She was coming home, and she spotted what she thought were kittens in the middle of the highway. So she pulled over, it’s dark, threw a towel over them, got them into a crate that she had in her vehicle. And then when she looked at them she realized they were fox kits,” Young recounted.
The foxes, brother and sister, are four to five weeks old, and they were having a rough time before they were rescued. “They were very emaciated when they came in, severely dehydrated, so it took some time to get them rehydrated,” said Young.
Gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are both on the canine family tree but are on different branches. Gray foxes have black tail tips, oval pupils, and retracting claws that allow them to climb trees. Because of their climbing ability, they are sometimes called the “tree fox” or “cat fox.” They are one of only two species of canids in the world that can climb trees.
Young says they also have a different temperament from red foxes. “They’re very calm to handle. They’re not really as squirmish as the red foxes. Very petite, very small. They’re a little more affectionate than the red foxes, but they’re starting to get more, they want to box, they want to hide away from us, which is fine. So they only see us for feedings and cleanings and weighings every morning.”
Delightful they may be, but Young says sooner or later they must be released into the wild, probably near where they were found in Lackawanna County.
“They’re more of a woodsy type of fox,” said Young, “so once these foxes are able to be released, we will go back up to that general area to release them. It’s more their habitat. And that will be a road trip,” she added with a laugh.