header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Cloudy
Cloudy
51°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
April 11
1987 - Ramona Chapel and Red Schoolhouse relocated to Heritage Junction [story]
Red Schoolhouse


| Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
| Thursday, Aug 24, 2017

As I was preparing to write this article, I decided to do a little informal survey of my family and friends, to gauge their reaction.

I started by asking my grandchildren what color they would use to draw a fox. I handed them a box of crayons. The situation became impossible when both started fighting over the red crayon.

So I asked a young woman: “What comes to your mind when I say the word ‘fox?’” She started to hum the song, “What Does the Fox Say?” I was not familiar with that one, but I ran away when her male companion started bellowing, “Hey, foxy lady!” This is not what I had in mind.

When I approached the older generation, they mentioned Aesop and La Fontaine fables where foxes were perceived as cunning creatures or tricksters that achieve their results by deceiving another animal or person, as in “The Fox and the Crow.” The fox flatters the crow about its beautiful voice, and the crow starts to sing, causing it to drop the cheese. The fox, of course, runs away with the cheese after advising the crow to be aware of the pitfalls of flattery.

In the fable, “The Fox and the Grapes,” the fox tries to steal some grapes. He jumps a few times but cannot reach them. He drapes himself in his dignity and pretends he was not really interested in those “sour grapes.”

Other friends said when they thought about foxes, they thought about dark forests and bedtime stories involving young children. The memories were vague because they heard those stories long ago, but when I did some research, I indeed found two Grimm fairy tales dealing with the fox and the cat and how the fox fakes his own death.

Grimm fairy tales are not pastel-colored bedtime stories, and they are not for the faint of heart. If I were a young child, I would stay in my bed like a rigid statue for hours before I could relax and get to sleep.

What impressed me in this little survey were the variations of reactions I encountered with the word, “fox.” Also, none of those people had seen a real fox face-to-face in the wild.

That was a little sad. There is one place in the Santa Barbara Zoo where you can see two island foxes that seem to have a great time in the exhibit they are in. They have a view of the zoo, and along the water is a great treat with a nice breeze.

Those island foxes come from the Channel Islands, just across the bay. I mention them first because they are fairly easy to see on the island. Take a boat (Island Packers in Ventura Harbor can take you there). Go first to Santa Cruz and take a leisurely hike. They are not too shy, and you are usually able to observe a few. The island foxes are supposed to be descendants of the grey foxes found in California. Their small size would have been an adaptation to the harsher life they had to adjust to on the Channel Islands.

When I was doing my little survey, I realized most people were thinking about the red fox when they answered. This is not the fox most common to California. Red foxes can be seen here and there, and one was spotted recently in Towsley Canyon, but the California fox is drabber, a bit smaller, and is called a grey fox.

The first traces of this grey fox were found in Arizona at the time of the giant sloth and the early small horses. It is a different genus from the red fox.

A fox is a canid, which means it is from the dog family. Let’s be clear: It is certainly not a cat. However, like a cat, it can climb trees. Only cats have claws that are retractable, so foxes cannot retract their claws, but they can climb trees with their strong claws that are hooked to make the task easier. They can climb a vertical tree trunk without the help of any branches, up to 60 feet. To go down, they can hop from branch to branch, or they descend the same way the cat does, going down backward, holding the trunk in their paws. That is highly unusual and gives them an advantage to escape from the coyote, for example, and from the rest of the dog family that cannot climb trees.

Another interesting fact: The diet of the grey fox changes according to its habitat. Adaptation is always the key to survival, but not all animals can do that so well. In California, the grey fox eats mostly rodents and rabbits, but in Utah (the study was done in Zion National Park), where the climate is a bit harsher, the grey fox eats insects and plants. Fruits and berries are always part of their diet if they are available, so maybe the story where the fox tries to steal the grapes was not so far-fetched, after all.

If you see an animal from far away and cannot decide if it is a fox, maybe you can get a glance at its tail. Be aware the grey fox tail has a distinctive black stripe along the top, and a black tip.

A group of foxes is called a skulk or leash.

Their home is called a den, and they can use a hollow tree, a boulder pile, a cave or an abandoned burrow.

If the fox has too much food, it will cache the food it wants to keep for later. How will it remember where it is hidden? It will pee on the spot where it is buried or will use its anal scent glands.

What else? Oh, yes, they love to swim.

I think I’ve come to the end of my fun little facts.

Are they endangered? No, they are doing fine. Finding the food they need to survive is not a problem, and they are keeping the rodent population under control. Sometimes they can be seen close to your home, and these two photos taken by a friend of mine in her backyard are an interesting testimony.

Now can be the time to remind you that a wild animal should remain wild for your sake, and for their survival. Do not feed them, do not leave cat food outside, make sure they cannot access your garbage. Something else we tend to forget: Clean up your barbecue grill.

Some young bears have been seen around Stevenson Ranch. Make sure they go higher up in the mountains by not giving them a reason to stay around your home.

I will come down off my soap box and let you enjoy nature at its best. We are so lucky in our valley to have endless possibilities to do that.

 

 

Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center since 1986. She lives in Newhall.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, Apr 2, 2021
When the City put the Santa Clarita 2020 strategic plan in motion more than five years ago, we knew it was an ambitious undertaking.
Thursday, Apr 1, 2021
Last spring, the City Council heard the community’s call to step in and preserve the landmark Valencia Ice Station. After months of renovations and updates, the 93,000 square foot building is almost ready to welcome the community back - to the newly renamed The Cube.
Tuesday, Mar 16, 2021
We have now reached the one-year anniversary of the shutdown of society as we responded to the threat of COVID-19.
Tuesday, Mar 2, 2021
Picture this…the sun has just set on another brisk spring day.
Monday, Mar 1, 2021
Spring is upon us, and with it comes longer days, greener hillsides, and warmer temperatures that invite outdoor exploration.
Monday, Feb 22, 2021
Helping our students stay on track to complete their goals remains our top priority. To that end, we are offering a wide variety of classes this spring designed to do just that.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1987 - Ramona Chapel and Red Schoolhouse relocated to Heritage Junction [story]
Red Schoolhouse
1835 - Outlaw and Rocks/Park/High School namesake Tiburcio Vasquez born in Monterey, Calif. [story]
Tiburcio Vasquez
Nearly 100 people gathered in front of the highly anticipated Laemmle 7 in Newhall to officially open the theater to the Santa Clarita Valley community.
Laemmle Officially Opens in Old Town Newhall
The city of Santa Clarita Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission recently met to receive an update from city staff about the status of the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall.
Parks Commissioners Asked to Advise on Pioneer Oil Refinery’s Future
A judge’s ruling this week dealt a setback to the Tejon Ranch Co.’s proposed 19,000-unit Centennial development project in the upper northwest corner of Los Angeles County.
Judge Halts Centennial Development Project in Tejon Ranch
The California Community College Athletic Trainers Association has named longtime athletic trainer, and current College of the Canyons associate athletic director, Chad Peters its 2021 Athletic Trainer of the Year.
Chad Peters Named CCCATA 2021 Athletic Trainer of the Year
Los Angeles County Public Health on Friday confirmed 48 new deaths and 752 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 27,432 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: 27,432 Total SCV Cases; County Nears 5 Million Administered Doses
The Santa Clarita City Council Legislative Committee briefly met Thursday morning to recommend that the City Council oppose four pieces of state legislation that would expand the state’s land-use authority.
Council Committee Recommends Opposition to State Land-Use Bills
In an effort to provide kids across the Santa Clarita Valley with a safe place to play and learn over spring break while parents are working, the Boys & Girls Club of SCV holds an annual camp.
Boys & Girls Club Holds Spring Break Camp
In recognition of public safety dispatchers' services, the California Highway Patrol joins other law enforcement agencies to recognize National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week on April 11-17, 2021.
CHP to Honor Public Safety Dispatchers During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week
Officials in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be hosting a virtual community discussion on child abuse prevention April 20.
L.A. County Sheriffs to Host Child Abuse Prevention Seminar
1937 - Pioneer aviator E.B. Christopher and passenger killed in crash of light plane on Ridge Route near Gorman [story]
wreckage
CBRE announced the sale of a state-of-the-art 24,164 square-foot industrial facility to Tera McHugh and John McHugh, owners of Versatile Systems, Inc.
Valencia Industrial Building Sold to Versatile Systems
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying public health restrictions in place for large events and community gatherings, as well as past participation numbers, the city of Santa Clarita has evaluated several components of the annual Santa Clarita Marathon and is making a necessary change to the event.
City Postpones 2021 Marathon, Event Permanently Moved to February
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday 52 new deaths and 710 new cases of COVID-19, with 27,417 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: L.A. County Hospitalizations Remain Under 600; SCV Cases Total 27,417
Because of the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some pet owners may have delayed purchasing their annual pet licenses and are now subject to late penalty fees.
Animal Care & Control Temporarily Waives Pet Licensing Fees
College of the Canyons will welcome José Rivera, award-winning playwright and the first Puerto Rican screenwriter to be nominated for an Oscar, to the School of Visual & Performing Arts’ Virtual Industry Insight Series on Monday, April 12.
COC Virtual Industry Insight Series Welcomes Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter José Rivera
Santa Clarita Artists Association (SCAA) will spotlight contemporary artist Alex Schaeffer in a virtual oil demo on Monday, April 19, from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
April 19: Virtual Oil Demo by Artist Alex Schaeffer
Spectrum Commercial Real Estate advisors Yair Haimoff, SIOR, Randy Cude, and Matt Sreden represented the seller in the sale of a 23,817-square-foot professional office building in a prime Valencia location.
Avenue Kearny Building Sells for $6 Million
Following stakeholder planning meetings over the course of a year and a public survey period in January, the city of Santa Clarita’s 2021 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) draft update enters the next phase in the approval and adoption process.
Residents Can Now Review Santa Clarita’s 2021 Hazard Mitigation Draft Plan
Cassie Gratton knows how to open a Laemmle theater. The general manager of the Newhall Laemmle, which will open its doors with a ribbon-cutting this Friday, also helped to open Laemmle’s Glendale and Claremont locations.
After Several Delays, Laemmle Newhall Opens Friday
The California Department of Transportation announced that new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV, or carpool) lanes are open to motorists on Northbound and Southbound Interstate 5 between the Ventura Freeway (State Route 134) interchange in Los Angeles and Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.
CalTrans Announces Opening of New I-5 Carpool Lanes
1874 - Work completed at Lyon's Station (now Eternal Valley) on first version of Pioneer Oil Refinery [story]
Pioneer Oil Refinery
%d bloggers like this: