I wrote a few days ago about my discovery of a dead fox which inexplicably turned up in the old hayfield behind the house. There was no obvious explanation as to how it had died or ended up in such a bizarre spot, but having skinned him out for a closer look, I can now say with some certainty that he was killed by another fox. Perhaps “killed” is the wrong word to use, but he certainly sustained injuries from fighting another fox which ultimately led to his death.
He had bruising all over his saddle and down onto his haunches, and the inside of his skin was prickled all over with dark little marks where teeth had gripped him but not broken through. When I got to his belly and flanks, I found nine deep puncture wounds of the size and diameter caused by a fox, and it is interesting to note that with the exception of one on his back, all of these were inflicted on his left side – the side on which he was blind. There were little twists and tufts of fox hair inside his mouth, suggesting that he had inflicted a blow or two on his attacker before turning tail.
None of the wounds look particularly serious, but combined they seem to have done the job – who knows how far the old dog ran before he finally petered out and died, and the most remarkable thing is that he dropped dead in such an obvious spot where he was easily found. I might never have found him if he had decided to fall even one hundred yards in any direction.
I don’t know how common it is for territorial disputes to end in death with foxes, but perhaps this old boy’s partial blindness finally did for him. He took quite a battering, and if he had been fit and capable, he would have won the day or lived to fight another day. As it was, he might have been slower and clumsier, and the injuries that killed him could have been inflicted in a matter of seconds.
The pictures above don’t make for pleasant viewing, but spare a thought for the poor idiot who skinned him in the highest state of stinkiness. The things I do for curiosity…