For months I've been lucky enough to glimpse moments in the life of a Cambridge vixen, originally named Robyn. She's the toughest, most resilient animal I've encountered, and boy she's needed to be. Shortly before Christmas she appeared on trail camera with a dreadful limp, unable to put any weight on her right front leg. Limping foxes are nothing unusual so I expected to see her get gradually better over the next week. Sadly, each night she appeared hopping past the camera with no sign of improvement. I decided at that moment that I'd start putting out some food to help her while she recovered. For a week she appeared at the feed site and ate the food but without any evidence that her injury was improving. It was also noticeable that she had a significant lump or swelling above her ankle, which I feared was broken.
Christmas came and went and in the new year I checked the camera to find her still unable to put weight on her leg. However, to complicate matters she now had a friend accompanying her, a magnificent male fox who became known as 'Boyfriend'. As January turned into February, Robyn, now known as 'Limpy', was showing signs of improvement and occasionally stood on her injured leg, only to reappear the next day limping as bad as ever. By March it was evident Limpy was pregnant but she was now finally starting to walk on her injured leg.
Toward the end of March she started to cache food in preparation for giving birth and then on 22nd March, out of nowhere, she appeared limping as badly as ever. She didn't appear at the feed site the following evening and for the next 2 weeks I checked the camera with a mixture of anticipation and increasing concern. When vixens give birth they stay with the cubs for about 10 days as the little ones can't regulate their own body temperatures. Thankfully, the two weeks cwtching with her cubs gave Limpy time to recover from her latest injury and she eventually reappeared walking with a limp but much improved. During this period 'Boyfriend' was supplying all the food she needed. There's also the chance that one of her daughters from last year was also helping, although I've not identified such an individual as yet.
Happily, she's now bossing the food site again. She's the only fox who routinely scents and poos in the holes where the supplemental food is placed, and she dominates another small vixen called 'White Eye' simply by strutting around with her back arched. She still has a deformity in the right leg which I assume means that her leg was most likely broken but has healed (hopefully).
It's probably too much to hope, but I'd like to see her cubs this spring.