‘You’re Invisible, but I’ll Eat You Anyway.’ Secrets of Snow-Diving Foxes
I’m a fox. It’s January. I’m hungry. I want a meal. My food, however, is buried 3 feet down, deep in the snow, hiding. It’s alive, in motion, and very small, being a mouse. So how does an above-ground fox catch an underground mouse? Well, the answer is nothing short of astonishing.
Think about this … an ordinary fox can stalk a mole, mouse, vole or shrew from a distance of 25 feet, which means its food is making a barely audible rustling sound, hiding almost two car lengths away. And yet our fox hurls itself into the air — in an arc determined by the fox, the speed and trajectory of the scurrying mouse, any breezes, the thickness of the ground cover, the depth of the snow — and somehow (how? how?), it can land straight on top of the mouse, pinning it with its forepaws or grabbing the mouse’s head with its teeth.