Emptying the Marsh Mole Larder
Mole activity has increased dramatically on the marsh this week, probably due to the unseasonably warm weather we are experiencing drying out the ground. The mole population is the marsh foxes’ larder, and they are emptying it in a spectacular manner.
When the vixen dens-down, she stays below ground for a couple of weeks because her new-born cubs totally rely on her for warmth. During this period, the dog fox is responsible for feeding the vixen, and he does this by raiding the marsh mole larder. Moles are also an important food source for the cubs after weaning.
So, having camera trapped the vixen with swollen teats a few days ago, together with today’s discoveries of three dens and the raided mole hills, I wonder if the balance of evidence does indeed point to the vixen being underground giving birth.
The image below shows a classic example of a fox raided mole hill.
When a marsh fox is on a mole hunt, it detects the mole and its direction of travel. The fox runs ahead of the mole and jumps up and down on the nearest molehill to collapse and block the tunnel. The mole, being a stickler of tidiness, is then compelled to clear the debris.
Wily fox waits patiently until it sees earth being pushed out from the top of the molehill. When the time is right, he jumps high into air before energetically thrusting his snout through the erupting soil. If Red Dog is successful, he manages to get his teeth around the mole and extracts it from the tunnel.