A story for a Sunday morning for you. A tale of a tail.
I came home from work on Friday afternoon, hot and tired and irritated to find a cat in the front garden. I don’t encourage cats because of the birds, and rather tend to “encourage” them to leave. It didn’t move as I hauled the shopping in from the car and remained still as I finished unloading.
At this point I decided to go and have a word with it. It was not really in the mood for a word. It was asleep. And not a cat. A fox cub. A very still fox cub and irritation turned to concern. Perhaps it had been hit by a car? Why was it in the open garden, albeit in a shady corner? I took a quick photo in case it just got up and wandered off , denying me the opportunity to get this close to a wild fox again, and then went indoors to ponder what I should do.
I spent a few minutes watching from the window. The little cub, the size of a small cat was not moving much. I went out to look again-it was breathing but seemed thin.
After about half an hour it stood up and unsteadily wandered into the middle of the lawn and lay down in the sun. A magpie perched in the tree above it. I decided to contact the local wildlife charity and ask for advice. Not normal behaviour for a healthy fox cub.
To their great credit someone from the Wildlife charity was here within half an hour. The cub was woken up by his arrival and got to its feet and slowly moved away from him. No hissing or snarling, no running away, just a slow walk. Very gently he guided the fox towards the open garage door and then into the garage. He watched it wander about for a few minutes and decided there were no physical injuries. It was probably just separated from its mum and lying up for the day. He advised me to keep it confined in the garage until late that evening and then release it. It was almost certainly locally born and would already know the area, and the vixen was probably not too far off.
Within an hour the noise from the garage was quite alarming. Now thoroughly awake, junior had decided to explore every inch of the untidiness that is our garage. It explored every cobwebby corner, climbed over sundry piles of “recycling”, jumped up onto storage units, knocking over tins full of seeds, the garden tools, stored decorating materials and much of the sundry debris found in most garages. I became concerned that it would injure itself more by being in the confined space than it would incur by being outside and reluctantly decided to let it out.
Having opened the door, it was in no great hurry to leave and when it did, strolled across the drive and into the neighbours’ open garage. I shooed it out and eventually persuaded it towards the wooded hedge line than borders our garden. It did occur that it was still not behaving very foxily. I did wonder if I had done the right thing to interfere at all.
Not 25 minutes after I let it out, the same wildlife charity called me back and suggested they send someone else out. On reflection there was a possibility it had concussion from a road accident and they would take it in. Can you imagine how I felt? I explained the situation and they suggested if I had a look locally and saw it I should telephone again and let them have a new location for the cub.
I explored the quiet footpath behind the house and noticed someone had placed a plastic container full of water in the middle of the path. Just around a corner, there was the little fox. And 2 women and a teenage girl. We exchanged stories-they had been watching it behaving oddly for about half an hour and had been feeding it on….pastrami. It liked pastrami. I wonder what this may tell you about the neighbourhood I live in.
At this point I handed over responsibility for the next part of this story to the girl. She seemed keen to take up the cub’s cause and I was relieved it had not come to any further harm. As I write, I do not know what happened next. If there is more tale, I will tell it. It has certainly made me reflect on whether I should have interfered at all. What would you have done? Without the benefit of hindsight of course!