Churchill Video of the Week – Red Fox

Take a look at this amazing footage of a red fox hunting lemmings in the snow. These animals have exceptional hearing that detects the movement of the rodents. Scientists also hypothesize that red fox utilize the Earth’s magnetic field to hunt.

While the ability to hear low frequency sounds allows the fox to detect movement below up to three feet of snow, it appears they also maximize their kill rate by honing in on prey in accordance with the magnetic field. When a fox stalks and jumps into the air like the display in the video it’s known as mousing.

In two years of research Jaroslav Červený studied red foxes in the Czech Republic, observing 84 foxes perform almost 600 mousing jumps.

Research showed that the mammals mostly pounced in a northeastern direction and that kills were more likely if they jumped along this axis — even if deep snow obscured the prey.

When pouncing through the snow to the northeast, their kill rate was 73 per cent. Attempts in the opposite direction provided only a 60 percent. In any other direction, only an 18 percent success rate prevailed.

Cerveny believed the foxes used the magnetic field as a “rangefinder” to track the sounds being made by prey. When the direction of the sound matches the magnetic fields slope then the fox recognizes the optimal strike moment. The fox can calculate the exact distance to jump, or mouse, for prey.

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