The Hidden World of the Fox
Discover the hidden world of the fox, as beautifully revealed by an acclaimed ecologist who has studied foxes for two decades across four continents
“An ode to this familiar yet mysterious creature. … The sight of foxes can lift Brand's prose into poetry. ... By turns lyrical, salty, funny and scholarly.” —New York Times Book Review
The fox. For thousands of years myth and folklore have celebrated its cunning intelligence. Today the red fox is the nature’s most populous carnivore, its dancing orange tail a common sight in backyards. Yet who is this wild neighbor, truly? How do we negotiate this uneasy new chapter of an ancient relationship? Join British ecologist Adele Brand on a journey to discover the surprising secrets of the fabled fox, the familiar yet enigmatic creature that has adapted to the human world with astonishing—some say, unsettling—success.
Brand has studied foxes for twenty years across four continents—from the Yucatán rainforest to India’s remote Thar Desert, from subarctic Canada to metropolitan London. Her observations have convinced her that the fox is arguably the most modern of all wildlife, uniquely suited to survival in the rapidly expanding urban/wild interface. Blending cutting-edge science, cultural anthropology, and intimate personal storytelling drawn from her own remarkable fieldwork, The Hidden World of the Fox is Brand’s rich and revelatory portrait of the extraordinary animal she has devoted her life to understanding.
Mammal ecologist Brand offers a spirited look at the red fox in this smart and accessible volume. In the introduction, Brand traces a lifelong pursuit which has included writing about foxes in childhood diaries, studying them in college, and, more recently, fostering orphaned cubs and injured adults for the Fox Project charity. Early chapters focus on their distinctive appearance and hugely varied habitats. Noting that foxes can survive across the "full measure of the world's diverse environments," Brand recalls seeing them both in India's Thar Desert, among "a scrubby thicket of what the local people call toothbrush bushes," and in London, "on a patch of grass under one of Brixton's tower blocks, half illuminated by streetlight." Subsequent sections deal with foxes' "paradoxical" interactions with each other which reveal them as simultaneously "independent and interdependent" and with other animals, including rabbits, rodents, and deer. Even a digression on 2014's viral music video "What Does the Fox Say?" proves fruitful, with Brand discussing the full range of things which foxes do "say." Thanks to this mix of biology, personal history, and pop culture, Brand's readers will be left both entertained and better informed about "this small, curious member of the dog family."