Friendly fox encounter

"The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves."    — Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527).


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While climbing in the Val d'Orco, we had company at the campsite on two evenings.

Left: While climbing in the Val d'Orco, we had company at the campsite on two evenings.


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It was clearly not afraid and coming very close, trying to take bites out of our shoes, chairs or anything that stood out, such as a guy line on the tent.

Right: It was clearly not afraid and coming very close, trying to take bites out of our shoes, chairs or anything that stood out, such as a guy line on the tent.


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This red fox (Vulpes vulpes) watched us from a distance while we were setting up the campsite, probably emboldened by the proximity of the Gran Paradiso national park and its 'no hunting' rule.

Left: This red fox (Vulpes vulpes) watched us from a distance while we were setting up the campsite, probably emboldened by the proximity of the Gran Paradiso national park and its 'no hunting' rule.


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It seemed strangely fascinated by the campfire as it approached as soon as we lit it up.

Right: It seemed strangely fascinated by the campfire as it approached as soon as we lit it up.


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I took those pictures with the small Ricoh, as I hadn't brought the flash for the bigger S5. Since the camera has a 28mm, I had to be less than 50cm away on all those shots. The fox didn't show any fear and didn't seem to mind the flash either.

Left: I took those pictures with the small Ricoh, as I hadn't brought the flash for the bigger S5. Since the camera has a 28mm, I had to be less than 50cm away on all those shots. The fox didn't show any fear and didn't seem to mind the flash either. Image available as a free wallpaperPurchase this image on a royalty-free CD archive compilation


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The fox was with us for about an hour each day.

Right: The fox was with us for about an hour each day. Image available as a free wallpaperPurchase this image on a royalty-free CD archive compilation


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We had to stash away food quickly when it first showed up, as it immediately ran away with a mostly empty packet of cookies.

Right: We had to stash away food quickly when it first showed up, as it immediately ran away with a mostly empty packet of cookies.


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It even managed to run away with a ski pole and I had to chase it in the dark for about 50 meters before it let go of it. Fortunately the sound of the pole banging the rocks was easy to follow.

Right:


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Unfortunately what gave foxes their bad reputation is the number of infectious diseases they can carry. As rodents are a big part of their alimentation, they can also catch and transmit nasty surprises like rabies, echinococcosis, trichinosis, leptospirosis, etc... So we were wary of touching it, even though it acted like it would appreciate being petted.

Right: Unfortunately what gave foxes their bad reputation is the number of infectious diseases they can carry. As rodents are a big part of their alimentation, they can also catch and transmit nasty surprises like rabies, echinococcosis, trichinosis, leptospirosis, etc... So we were wary of touching it, even though it acted like it would appreciate being petted.


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Foxes don't live very long in the wild, only 2 or 3 years, although they can live 4 times longer in captivity. There's a famous ongoing russian experiment in taming foxes by quick selective breeding.

Left: Foxes don't live very long in the wild, only 2 or 3 years, although they can live 4 times longer in captivity. There's a famous ongoing russian experiment in taming foxes by quick selective breeding.


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Our friend for the evening.

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For a while I even thought it was going to fall asleep at our feet like a nice doggy.

Right: Our friend for the evening. Purchase this image on a royalty-free CD archive compilation

Left: For a while I even thought it was going to fall asleep at our feet like a nice doggy.