Hospital Diary – Spring
Here at Brent Lodge we currently have 9 fox cubs lodging with us from 7 different litters, sadly so far we are not sure what happened to their mothers, we can only assume that the cubs were dropped accidentally by mum, abandoned or their mum was killed. Fortunately, none of the fox cubs have come in with injuries, although one was incredibly weak and poorly. So luckily none of the cubs have needed any veterinary treatment yet but the vet has come in to check their general health.
Their Care plan
We plan to care for the cubs until they are old enough and independent enough to survive in the wild. We will then make a plan to release them at an appropriate location site. The cubs will stay with us for as long as they need but we obviously do aim to get them out back where they belong, as soon as we possibly can. We generally aim to keep them until they are at least 6 months old.
Whist they are with us they will stay inside the hospital in incubators whilst they are small and being hand-fed. They then go out to heated stables whilst they are still young until they are old enough to have access to an outside run, attached to the stable. The heating is then switched off and they must learn to acclimatise to temperature and learn to be wild foxes. As soon as they go into their outside stables, we are completely hands-off. The main thing whist they are with us is to keep them wild so they can be released. If we imprint onto them, they cannot be released and we have failed in our job. As soon as the foxes are old enough to feed themselves, we are completely hands off and no longer handle them in any way. We ensure they have somewhere to hide from us at all times, (which they like to do) so that when we do have to go into their enclosures to feed and clean them, we keep out of their way and vice versa.
Their Feeding regime
On arrival the cubs were all fed on a specialist puppy formula mild but some are now just starting to eat solids in the form of puppy food mixed with a bit of their puppy milk. When they came to us they were generally quite dehydrated so depending upon how bad they are, they are roughly fed every 1-2 hours day and night for the first day or two until they are a little brighter and then they go to every 2-3 hours from early morning until late at night. It also depends on their age.
They are all mixture of girls and boys ranging from as young as 2 weeks old up to 6 weeks, but all are too young to be away from mum. The younger ones will need more frequent feeds for a longer period of time. We currently only have 1 ‘tiny’ one that is still requiring day and night feeding, 2 hours apart. The rest now have their eyes open and are becoming more independent.
Depending upon which specialist milk we use, it can cost between £15 and £35 a tin!!! A tin will only last a couple of weeks (or even as little as a few days depending on how many mouths we must feed).
We often find that when it comes to catching them for their release, they are completely petrified of us and become very stressed when we go near them which seems sad but for us its good because it means they are scared of us which is exactly how they should be!
Because they came to us when they did their chances of survival are very good. We have spoken to and worked with many other centres about the release of fox cubs. These other centres have tagged and monitored their cubs to see if their rehabilitation has been successful and a huge percentage have ‘made it’ in the wild. Although we do not tag our foxes as we simply do not have the funds to do this and monitor the post release, we have taken on the methods of other centres and extensively researched our release sites before letting them go.
It is evident that without the support of our generous donors we would not be able to do the work we do. With the kind donations we receive from Supporters, we were able to purchase specialised formula which can be extremely costly, given the amount of mouths we have to feed. Your support has also enabled us to provide a fully trained staff member to care for them and feed them day and night, until they have completed their rehabilitation and fit for release without our unfortunate intervention it is likely they wouldn’t have survived.
A few months on look us now…
Thank you for your support and for helping us make this possible!