A newborn fox cup had a very lucky escape recently when the nosy Jack Russell Terrier that discovered its cosy den, decided to befriend the cub and bring it home. The toothy terrier returned with his newest friend in his mouth and dropped it off at the back door - completely unharmed. The Reverend John Russell (1795-1883), who bred one of the finest strains of Jack Russell dogs specifically for fox-hunting and after whom the dogs were named, would surely smile to hear this heartwarming story. However the friendship was short-lived when Mark Hickey of the TSPCA (Tipperary Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was called by the terrier’s owner who wondered what they were going to do with the newborn. The cub was so young that there was a serious risk that it would not survive for very long away from its mother. But the cub is now in the safe hands of the TSPCA who must hand-feed it every hour with a special milk formula, in the hope that it will survive the untimely removal from its mother’s care.
“She was so small that the ears and eyes were still closed and there was still a piece of the umbilical cord attached when we took her,” said Mark, who refers to the cub as female, but cannot yet establish the sex due to its tiny size.
“The cup was maybe three or four days old, and was about three inches long,” he said.
The cub is spending its days sleeping under the warm glow of a heat lamp as the TSPCA keep a watchful eye, and can now expect a life of domesticity with the TSPCA. Because it was taken from the wild at such a young age, it would be impossible to release the cub back into that environment. The TSPCA is willing to take on the challenge that rearing a fox will pose.
“We wouldn’t be able to release it back again, because it will become domesticated, so we will have a pet fox here with us,” said Mark.
But for now, the priority is to ensure that the little cub survives these coming weeks until it can move to solid food and grow into a healthy adult.
“She is like a little baby now, we even have to help her go to the toilet,” said Mark, agreeing that all the hard work will be worth it in the end.