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Red Fox: The Catlike Canine by J. David…

Red Fox: The Catlike Canine

by J. David Henry

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321347,362 (4.17)5



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A gem of a book, thoughtful and factual both, and written with just a touch of the playfulness you might expect from a natural scientist who has spent decades studying foxes. Henry also gives the reader the sense of the limitations of what a single researcher can do. Simply acclimating a fox to your constant presence, for example, takes up to a month. Then you have to devise experiments that take patience, arduous (and sometimes strenuous) care to fulfill, and be open to whatever the results may bring. Studying fox caching behaviour, for example, Henry created experiments that had him running about recreating various caching methods to figure out why foxes cache the way they do. His conclusions are surprising--and make a lot of sense. The final chapter is a delight, thoughts about his observations over the years of fox playfulness -- once when done playing with a vole he saw a fox take it back to the hole where he got it and toss it back in. We had a cat that collected the mice he caught in buckets, presumably so they would be there when he wanted to play with them again . . . and he makes the point that the anomalous and strange things one observes matter as much as the experiments that can be verified over and over again and that the "scientific method" needs a way to incorporate and utilize those rarer observations. Anyway, if you want to learn about foxes, this is the book to get. ***** ( )
1 vote sibyx | Jun 4, 2016 |
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In this engaging introduction to the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), J. David Henry recounts his years of field research on this flame-colored predator. With its catlike whiskers, teeth, and paws, as well as vertical-slit pupils, the North American red fox not only resembles but often behaves like a feline, especially when hunting. Probing the reasons for these similarities, Henry reveals the behavior and ecology of a species that thrives from the edge of suburbia to the cold northern tundra.
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